BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Embattled opener Kieran Powell says mixed signals from West Indies cricket authorities left him “deflated and confused” and foiled his attempt to return to international cricket, following a self-imposed break from the game.
In a statement issued Wednesday – his first since playing his last competitive game last June – the 24-year-old left-hander confirmed he had taken a break from cricket “to deal with a personal issue” and had received support from then coach Ottis Gibson, team manager Sir Richie Richardson and then chairman of selectors Clyde Butts.
Powell said he also spoke to West Indies Cricket Board president Dave Cameron who also pledged the board’s support.
However, three months after stepping away from the game, Powell said he revisited his situation and decided to make himself available for the tour of India, which was eventually abandoned following a players’ strike.
He said he subsequently had a “positive” conversation with West Indies coach Stuart Williams about his decision to return, with Williams asking him to ensure the “relevant measures” were taken to facilitate his comeback.
However, after speaking to Cameron and Director of Cricket, Richard Pybus, along with the new selection panel chaired by West Indies legend, Clive Lloyd, Powell said he was left confused about his immediate future with the squad.
“During my conversation with Mr Cameron, I communicated my wishes to make myself available for international cricketing duties again,” Powell said.
“This time there was an awkward hesitancy throughout the conversation – less than four weeks after our initial conversation where he had been extremely encouraging about my return to international duty.
“He stated during our conversation that I had not been practising, which was assumed on his part. He then asked me to contact Mr Pybus, which I immediately did.”
Powell said that in his subsequent conversation with Pybus, he was accused of “walking off the job” and told that he needed to return to grassroots cricket in order to make his way back into the regional squad.
The Leeward Islands batsman, who has played 21 Tests and also captained the West Indies A team, said the conversation left him “confused and flabbergasted” as he felt he was being unfairly targeted.
“During my conversation with Mr Pybus, he stated that he had made numerous attempts to contact me but had been unsuccessful,” Powell explained.
“I responded that various people from both the board and team management had, by then, contacted me several times, including the president of the board and the coaches and manager of the West Indies team, therefore, I was baffled as to why Mr Pybus would have been unable to contact me.
“Furthermore, he claimed that I had simply “walked off the job” when this was utterly untrue. I had explicitly made my unavailability known to both the team manager and the then-coach.”
Powell continued: “Mr Pybus insisted that I write a letter to him outlining my plans to return to cricket. He also pressed me to divulge details of my personal issue, which I did not wish to discuss. He then went on to imply, in my opinion, that my future position in the squad would be compromised if I was not willing to disclose this information, which I felt was coercive, intrusive and unjust.
“He went onto suggest that I return to grass-roots level cricket, in my bid to make a comeback. In my mind, I immediately compared this to other situations in the recent past, in which senior players in the West Indies team had not been expected to follow the same protocol and I wondered: why me?
Asked to urgently contact the selectors, Powell said he spoke to Courtney Browne and chief selector Clive Lloyd and was told he was regarded as a future captain and was assured he had not been forgotten.
Left “astonished and befuddled” by the conversation, Powell said he called Browne and Lloyd again to indicate his availability for the India tour. When he did not get a firm answer, Powell said he asked if he could be considered for the A team four of Sri Lanka which ran parallel to the India tour last September/October, but again was not given a “firm answer”.
Powell, the sixth Test player to emerge from Nevis, last played for West Indies in the first Test against New Zealand last June, did not feature in the Caribbean Premier League, the early rounds of the WICB Professional Cricket League, and was not named to in the Leewards squad for the NAGICO Super50 starting next week in Trinidad and Tobago.