ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) – West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron has rejected claims that all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard were axed from the World Cup squad because of their roles in the controversial abandoned tour of India.
Neither player was named in the 15-man squad announced on Saturday to contest the World Cup which bowls off in Australia and New Zealand next month. They were also overlooked for the five-match series against South Africa starting Friday.
When the squad for South Africa was announced last month, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves wrote to Cameron to complain that the WICB had “dishonoured that undertaking” of not punishing any player involved in the India tour walkout.
However, Cameron remained adamant the ODI squads for both the South Africa tour and the World Cup had been selected on cricketing merit.
“We have not gone back on our agreement. At the point in time we made it very clear we didn’t want to use the terminology that was being suggested, because if you made any changes to the team then that could be termed,” Cameron told CARIB UPDATE News in a radio interview here Sunday.
“And so we have been very, very firm that as a body we have entrusted that relationship and that decision making to some of the biggest legends we have in West Indies cricket and their judgement is what the board goes by.”
He added: “We have not disciplined anybody. If you talk about non-cricketing reasons, we have reviewed the task force report.
As a matter of fact, we had a board meeting yesterday (Saturday) and what we have done is review the task force report and accepted a number of the recommendations for implementation.”
The task force was established by the WICB to investigate the reasons behind the abandoned tour and make recommendations on the way forward.
Like the squad in South Africa, the World Cup unit will be skippered by rookie fast bowler Jason Holder who featured on the tour of India last October.
The 23-year-old has played just three Tests and 21 ODIs and replaced Bravo who took over from Darren Sammy in May, 2013.
Gonsalves, who brokered an agreement between the players, the WICB and players union WIPA, in the wake of the abandoned tour, also contended in his two-page letter to Cameron that the omission of Bravo and Pollard “reeks of village vengeance, discrimination and victimisation” and slammed the decision as “glaringly (lacking) cricketing merit.”
Cameron defended the squad selection, arguing that the selectors were embarking on a rebuilding process and infusing the ODI set-up with new blood.
“The team we have selected has a very good mix of experience, youth and a lot of talent. One would remember that the team four years ago didn’t do very well in the World Cup and we are ranked number eight today so the selectors have decided they want to put some youth and build for the future and I think it is a very good balance,” Cameron said.
On using the World Cup as a starting point for moulding a squad, Cameron argued: “That’s a discussion one could have, whether you build for the future or try to win. We’re ranked number eight today so realistically if you look at the numbers we should come number eight, so one has to be very careful.
“We’ve always been looking at just winning, winning, winning and we’ve not really been building a West Indies team. For my own part and for the board’s part, it is a matter of when you start doing that, whether you do that today or six months from now.”
Pollard and Bravo boast 255 ODIs between them, and despite their unflattering statistics with bat and ball, are powerful batsmen and steady bowlers in the shorter versions of the game.
In recent years, they have become virtual fixtures in the T20 and ODI squads, but Cameron pointed out that team building was the focus at this juncture.
“The board of selectors have appointed very eminent persons to select the West Indies team and they have selected those players based on the balance and merit etc, and we have accepted that team,” he said.
“West Indies cricket goes on irrespective of who is playing and not playing. We have been building a team ethic. It’s not an individual sport and so what I like to do is focus on the team, focus on the persons that are in the team and giving them all the support that they need to make the West Indies proud.”