BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) – Newly-appointed Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, has strongly backed the ongoing review of the West Indies Cricket Board’s controversial eligibility rule.
The former Test captain, who has replaced Englishman Richard Pybus in the role, said there was now widespread acknowledgement among stakeholders that the rule was no longer “sustainable” and could in fact be detrimental to the development of West Indies cricket.
“I’m not the only one who’s going to be involved in the decision but I’m certainly of the view that it needs reviewing,” Adams said in a wide-ranging interview here Monday.
“There’s a process behind that. That means it probably won’t happen overnight. The review will be ongoing and it has already started, but as to if a change in direction is to happen, that won’t happen overnight because of the process that backs that up but it is being reviewed.
“A lot of stakeholders in our cricket appreciate now that it does need to be looked at.”
The rule has proved a sore point for players over the years as it has required them to forego lucrative contracts in foreign leagues and make themselves available for the domestic season, in order to be eligible for West Indies selection.
As a result, many of the region’s most experienced players have missed out on international duty, opting rather to campaign in many of the global Twenty20 competitions instead.
Only last week, veteran batsman Marlon Samuels accused the WICB of playing hard ball with the rule after he was deemed ineligible for selection for the upcoming one-day series against England, because he played only two games of the recently concluded Regional Super50.
He left the tournament early to take up a contract in the Pakistan Super League.
Adams, who played 54 Tests and 127 ODIs for West Indies, said despite the acrimony over the years, there was a lot of common ground that could be reached between players and the administration.
“Having spent quite a bit of time in different roles, representing the players association for a few years as secretary and then having worked as technical director in Jamaica, I’ve already stood on both sides of the fence and I can quite appreciate a lot of the issues that face both the board and the players,” the 49-year-old pointed out.
“I think we have the potential to achieve a lot more if we can get people singing off the same hymn book going forward. The outstanding issue right now is player eligibility and like I said, I’m encouraged by the fact that most, if not all parties, are in agreement that what is in place now is not sustainable and might not be helping our cricket in the short- and long-term so that for me is encouraging.”
Adams, who spent the last four years as head coach of English county Kent, acknowledged the foreign leagues had served to enhance West Indies players but said emphasis needed to be also placed on further developing the domestic league in the Caribbean.
“I also think that a lot of our international players – certainly the Chris Gayle generation – they would have started under Stanford (Stanford T20) but a lot of them developed and became, in my view, battle-hardened with leagues outside the Caribbean,” he explained.
“And I guess – if I am waving a magic wand – I’d like to eventually have the standard in the Caribbean where if they do play overseas that’s fine, certainly from a financial point of view, but in terms of developing our own to an international standard, we want our cricket here in the Caribbean to be a lot stronger.”
The Jamaican also noted the review of the rule was critical as it was important to have the best players available for selection.
“I would like to have the best players available. I’m not going to stick my neck on the block. It’s a selection panel decision as to who the best players are but ideally, you always want your best players available for selection.”