'Tried exceedingly hard to reach out to Gayle' - Hilaire
WICB chief Ernest Hilaire has said the board worked "exceedingly hard" to reach out to Chris Gayle before leaving him out of the West Indies squad for the first two one-dayers against Pakistan. Hilaire's statements were in response to Gayle, who had earlier said the board hadn't communicated with him before making their decision. Gayle is currently playing in the IPL, where he started off his 2011 campaign with a sparkling ton for Royal Challengers Bangalore, while West Indies are down 0-2 in the five-match series against Pakistan.
"We can dispel all that Chris [Gayle] said by releasing the letters and emails," Hilaire told the Line & Length Network. "But we should not do that. You communicate with a player, you ask for his opinions, you ask for him to account on certain statements he made, you ask him what's his position on certain things and you expect to be treated with a certain degree of confidence.
"You expect when the coach pulls a player aside and speaks to him there is a certain level of respect for that conversation. And against that background I'm not going to try to prove Chris Gayle wrong. What's more important is to state that we're very disappointed in the way in Chris has decided to respond. I think he is being ill-advised. We've worked exceedingly hard to reach out to Chris - numerous attempts - letters, phone calls, emails. He is being advised and he will act in the way in which he sees best."
Hilaire revealed that the WICB had decided to allow Gayle to play in the IPL, since it did not want to deny him the opportunity. "We've stated - it is not that we do not want the players to earn a living," Hilaire said. "We want them to earn a living but we also want them to honour their commitment to West Indies cricket. So we spoke to [Kieron] Pollard, [Dwayne] Bravo and Chris.
"Last October when the three players did not sign the retainer contracts, we wrote to them and said 'tell us what the issues are so we can address it moving forward'," Hilaire said. "We had some exchanges, a couple of constructive ones, one not very constructive but we decided we were going to continue to engage the players. We did not want a situation where we pick the players to play for West Indies and they miss out on IPL, they are then bitter, disappointed, they wish they were at IPL. We would not benefit, they would not benefit.
"Two of the players [Pollard and Bravo] were very cooperative, very supportive, that they can work out an arrangement with us where they can meet their commitments to West Indies cricket as far as the selectors would want them to but also get a chance to play in the IPL.
"It did not exactly work out with Chris but when the point came and he said he was not available for selection, we did give him the NOC because it is not about revenge, it is not about denying him the opportunity."
Pollard, normally a first-choice pick in West Indies' limited-overs' squads, is currently playing in the IPL for Mumbai Indians. Bravo, who missed all but one game in the World Cup with injury, is playing for West Indies, but is set to miss the Test leg of the Pakistan tour to play in the IPL.
Hilaire said the board was under the impression that Gayle was undergoing rehabilitation, and would be available to play Pakistan once he was fully fit. "We said to Chris repeatedly that as far as we are concerned you're injured, you're doing a rehabilitative programme, and that when you're finished we want you tested and if you're available we'll pick you to play for West Indies," Hilaire said. "If you don't want to play we have no difficulty in giving you the NOC once you say you're not available for selection, and he said he was not available for selection and we gave him the NOC.
Hilaire defended the wholesale changes in the side - apart from Gayle, other seniors like Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have also been left out - saying it was done with the intention of sparking a revival in the team's fortunes.
"If you look at West Indies cricket since the mid-90s a lot of the systems we had in place broke down," Hilaire said. "There's no discipline, there's no application. We've been doing that for 15 years and we've been losing.
"We need to put a new system in place. No one man is bigger than the team, no one man is such a superstar he can decide if he is training today, if he's going to have treatment tomorrow, if he's going to attend a team meeting. It cannot work that way.
"So [the WICB] does not tell the selectors who to pick, we've said to the selectors that we want a team, we don't want the whole team to surround one or two superstars so that if the superstars fail then everything collapses. We depend on two or three people to excel for us to win and if they don't excel we lose. We don't want that."