Fast bowler Kemar Roach is back on a central contract for West Indies. He was one of four players offered all-format contracts for 2018-19, as per the list announced by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on Monday. The other three are captain Jason Holder, batsman Shai Hope and pacer Alzarri Joseph, all of whom had all-format contracts in the previous cycle too.
Roach, 30, has resumed his role as West Indies' bowling spearhead over the past year, after being dropped on form in 2016. He was recalled in July 2017, and since then has taken 41 wickets in 11 Tests at 22.58, and 10 wickets from five ODIs at 18.60.
CWI also handed out red-ball, white-ball and development contracts for men, in keeping with the new system that was announced in January, and 12 women's contracts. The previous contracts expired on September 30, but the new ones will be back-dated to July 1 to ensure all cricketers in the system, both international and domestic, have contracts that run simultaneously. All the contracts will end on June 30, 2019.
Batsman Evin Lewis turned down the white-ball contract offered to him, CWI said in a release. Several West Indies players have turned down contracts in the past to allow them to freelance overseas, particularly in T20 leagues, though it has not been confirmed whether this is the case with Lewis.
None of the superstars of West Indies cricket feature in the contracts list. It was the same last year, when it was reported that the likes of Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree and Darren Sammy would be offered pro-rata contracts based on their performances in the short term.
Last December, CWI CEO Johnny Grave had told ESPNcricinfo: "Post amnesty, Gayle and Marlon played in England [in the limited-overs series]. If we had won the series and they had made lots of runs, they probably would have got contracts. So I think the selectors want to see them in New Zealand, Super50 and World Cup Qualifiers, but I suspect at some stage in 2018 they will get contracts."
Gayle has played 15 of West Indies' 18 ODIs since the start of that England series, which had been his first for West Indies since the 2015 World Cup due to various tussles with the board over selection policies. In this period, he has averaged 33.73, with one century, two fifties and a strike-rate of 101.40. There was no mention of Gayle in the board's press release on the contracts. Given the 2019 World Cup is eight months away, it remains to be seen what role the seniors play in West Indies' campaign.
Batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Kieran Powell have been given red-ball contracts this year, upgraded from the red-ball development contracts they received last time around. Pacer Shannon Gabriel and legspinner Devendra Bishoo also got red-ball contracts, instead of the all-format ones they had this past year. Jermaine Blackwood (red-ball), Jomel Warrican (red-ball), Jason Mohammed (white-ball) and Kesrick Williams (white-ball development) have been dropped from the contracts list.
Chairman of selectors Courtney Browne said handing out separate contracts for red and white-ball cricket "allows for the better management of players as it relates to their development. At the time of recommending contracts in June some players would have developed in different formats after the process had finished, so their recent performances can't be considered until the next contract cycle."