Door still open for Gayle and Narine, says Harper

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By Akeem Greene

Though they were overlooked for the upcoming tour to New Zealand, the door is not closed on the experienced duo Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine. That’s according to Cricket West Indies Chief Selector, Roger Harper.

At a Virtual press briefing on Friday, Harper indicated that both are still being considered for future selection.

Gayle lasted played a T20 for West Indies in March 2019, and has missed five series after, while Narine played during the India visit in August 2019 and was absent for the next four series.

However, the two T20 stalwarts have played over 750 T20 matches combined, which is a wealth of experience for any side.

Gayle did not feature in this year’s Caribbean Premier League, and now 41, the big question is how much time he has remaining in the maroon colours. For now, Harper said he is in consideration for selection.

“Chris Gayle like Sunil Narine and all the others, everyone is being considered; we picked a squad that we thought was the right one for this tour,” Harper expressed.

“Comments were made on players who were on the last tour or not in the squad or new players who would have come into the squad. Chris Gayle like Sunil Narine is a world-class player and we know what he is capable of and going forward he will be considered and is being considered as well.”

Narine’s current situation is less straightforward than Gayle’s, since he was reported for bowling with a suspected illegal bowling action during Kolkata Knight Riders’ match against Kings XI Punjab last Saturday in the ongoing Indian Premier League.

He has since missed the next two matches for KKR but it is understood, he has been working with Englishman Carl Crowe – the man who helped him in 2014 – to rectify his action.

Harper said that once Narine is confident in his ability and ready to return to the West Indies set-up, he will be considered.

“Sunil is an experienced cricketer, he is a world-class performer and he understands the challenges because he has done it in the past and we all know what Sunil can do. As we build-up to the T20 World Cup and Sunil is ready, available, and fully fit, he will be considered. You don’t do much analysis or assessment of Sunil Narine’s form or quality, we know what he is capable of.”

Harper added, “Once available and everything in order, as we move forward, we will look at him and see whether he is available and ready to be drafted into the squad.”

The head selector further stated that the absence of Gayle and Narine presents an opportunity for them to see other players and try different combinations.

Andre Russell opted out of the tour, noting he needed “time to clear his head”

Other noticeable absentees are Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis and Andre Russell. Harper clarified that Simmons, who was the leading run-scorer at this year’s Caribbean Premier League, declined the opportunity to tour after consultations with his family, while Lewis had a similar reason along with an “injury that is troubling him.”

With regards to Russell, Harper explained that the all-rounder conveyed “he was not handling the whole thing [quarantines] well and he needed some time to clear his head and get himself together because he has been going from one lockdown, so to speak, to another.”

Harper had previously explained: “New Zealand is a little different to England in that they have managed to not be in as bad a place, relative to the COVID-19 virus, as most places around the world, so once the squad quarantines and there are no infections and everything is fine, I think you can just move around freely.”

The upcoming three-match series will form part of the overall planning towards defending the ICC World T20 title in India 2021.

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