Gayle's future in doubt after heated meeting
Chris Gayle is highly unlikely to play in the Test series against India and is in danger of not representing West Indies in the near future. A heated meeting on Wednesday night between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and Gayle's camp ended in a stalemate, according to those present, with conflicting reports from both sides over what had happened in the meeting.
After the meeting, a West Indies board source told ESPNcricinfo there was a possibility that Gayle's career could go down the same road as that of Andrew Symonds, who now plies his trade only as a freelance player in domestic Twenty20 events across the world and does not play for Australia. Gayle's camp said this prediction made by the board was an indication that the WICB wanted to end the international career of the former West Indies captain. They also said the meeting had proved the board was in no mood to arrive at a compromise, refusing to negotiate unless Gayle retracted statements he made in a radio interview in April.
Gayle was present at the three-hour meeting along with Ramnarine and WIPA vice-president Wavell Hinds, while the board was represented by Hilaire, coach Ottis Gibson, team manager Richie Richardson and director of cricket Tony Howard.
After the meeting on Wednesday, in which tempers are said to have flared, allegations from both camps flew thick and fast. A WICB source alleged that Dinanath Ramnarine, the president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), had lifted his chair and threatened to assault the board CEO Ernest Hilaire. WIPA denied the incident but conceded that there had been verbal disagreements and that Ramnarine had got out from his chair at one point, but had neither lifted the chair nor tried to hit Hilaire.
A WIPA source said the meeting ended with Hilaire saying he would have to speak with the WICB management and the selectors before any more action was taken. No further meeting between the two parties was scheduled. The West Indies board will meet on June 17 in Kingston, with a new round of players contracts due in three months. The Gayle issue is also expected to be discussed.
The WICB wants Gayle to retract the statements he made on radio earlier this year, during an interview in which he alleged the board had mismanaged his injury, that coach Gibson had damaged Ramnaresh Sarwan's confidence, and the board mishandled his contract talks in October 2010.
The player's camp said they were willing to negotiate but the WICB had been adamant and wanted to end Gayle's career to set a precedent. "They just want him to beg and apologise," the WIPA source said. "We were willing to bury the past and move on but they weren't willing. We asked two things. One: why didn't they pick up Gayle? Two: what's the next step from here and what's the time-frame? The board didn't give any time-frame. The thing is just hanging now."
According to the WICB Gayle wanted to brush his allegations made during the radio interview under the carpet and that WIPA was now demanding that he be selected. "They didn't want to retract the statements made which is not acceptable to us," the board source said. "Their claim is that Gayle was upset when he said that and it was just a statement made in that context. The board doesn't agree. You can't make unsubstantiated statements against the board, the coach, and the other issues and just say that you were upset. Gayle has to retract his statements."
If Gayle retracts his statements, the board would likely view the incident as a minor indiscretion, penalise him accordingly, and select him.
The WIPA claims the board doesn't want to see a resolution over the issue and wants to bury both Gayle's career and the players association along with it. "We went in thinking that the issue will be resolved but to our horror they weren't just in the mood," a WIPA source said. "They made lots of false allegations. The real issue is the selection of Gayle. Clearly, they don't want to. It's a big ego issue for them and they are dragging West Indies cricket down with them."
The issue dates back to October 2010, when Gayle refused to sign a contract with the board. The WICB claims that Gayle wanted the board to buy him out of his IPL contract. "It was before the IPL auction time," the board source said. "Gayle said he went for US $800,000 in the last year and wanted the same amount."
Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, who initially adopted the same position as Gayle, later reached an agreement with the board. They would accept match fees for playing in games for West Indies and were allowed to play in the IPL.
It is understood that later, when Gayle approached the board for a no-objection certificate to play in the IPL, the board agreed because they didn't want to be dragged to the court on a "restraint of trade" clause.
As things stand, a resolution between the board and Gayle now seems extremely unlikely.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo