Skerritt hopeful players can put West Indies above leagues

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By Akeem Greene

Cricket West Indies (CWI) President, Ricky Skerritt, has once again dismissed the notion that players will be ‘punished’ if they opt not to take up international duties with the West Indies team.

However, in ideal circumstances he hoped players would opt to play for West Indies instead of the numerous leagues worldwide.

Speaking in a recent interview on SportsMax TV, Skerritt was questioned on players declining West Indies’ selection, but are drafted for Twenty20 Leagues which are being played concurrently with West Indies matches.

Andre Russell and Chris Gayle, who did not feature in the West Indies squad to face New Zealand in three T20s from November 27 to 30, were on Monday drafted in the Lankan Premier League (LPL), set to bowl off on November 21.

Gayle was overlooked for the series, but CWI Chief Selector Roger Harper said the door is still open for the Jamaican left-hander in future series.

According to Harper, Russell 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.”

However, while the Sri Lankan government has not approved lenient quarantine measures for those coming into the country for the tournament, Sri Lanka Cricket insists that the foreign players and officials taking part have all agreed to the strict 14-day quarantine, in which arrivals are not allowed to leave their rooms.

Andre Russell opted not to tour New Zealand, but was drafted to the play in the Sri Lanka Premier League (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The President indicated that despite players being drafted, there has not been an indication to play since no one has requested a No Objective Certificate (NOC)

“We don’t know for a fact that a player is drafted and is seeking to play in that league, until such time we receive a request for a NOC; we have received none for the player involved, so we have to assume he is not playing until such time we see such evidence he is playing.”

Skerritt added, “That particular player is not contracted by Cricket West Indies; some years ago the courts practically told Cricket West Indies you cannot restrain the trade of players who you have not contracted otherwise.”

Despite the legal blanket which protects the players, the CWI head hopes they would put country over personal gain.

“Now is that something we like to hear? Of course not. We would like to believe it is country above self, West Indies above leagues and so on.”

CWI Chief Selector Roger Harper

“Our policy is very straightforward since I have come to the fore, bearing in the mind the league situation, we believe that players must be encouraged to play for their country and the region based on the conditions and the environment that we create and the relationships we build.”

The former West Indies team manager, who took over CWI Presidency in March 2019, further explained his regime has no intentions of holding malice towards any decision players make regarding unavailability for selection.

“That is where we differ from the previous administration; players will not be punished, selectors will not become disciplinarians, selectors will pick the best available players who want to play at that time or who are obligated in the case of contracted players.”

Harper heads the current selection panel which includes Miles Bascombe and Head Coach Phil Simmons.

According to Skerritt, the selectors are to deal with each situation individually, but still have the power to leave out players if they do not align with a long-term development plan.

“The selectors will deal with each situation individually, but the selectors can also decide that if there is a player who does not fit into their long-term plans that they don’t pick that player even if that player is performing well, but that is up to the players based on a selection policy which ultimately says we want to put on the field of play the best available team at any point in time. Selectors cannot be, will not be, members of a tribunal of disciplinary proportions,” the CWI president expressed.

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