Gayle to 'explore opportunities' but won't quit
Chris Gayle has said he "will explore the opportunities available" to him elsewhere since he can no longer wait on the WICB to resolve their issues with him, but is available for selection for West Indies and Jamaica and has ruled out retirement. In a long and emotional public statement he said communication with officials of the West Indies and Jamaica boards had broken down and traced the evolution of the long-running and bitter dispute back to 2009, when Ernest Hilaire, now CEO of the WICB, cast doubts on his ability to captain the team.
Gayle also referred to the recent efforts at rapprochement with Hilaire and said that Hilaire would not be able to meet him till August, ruling him out of West Indies' current home series against India.
"I have now reached the stage where I have to say that enough is enough," Gayle wrote. "I understand that the WICB and the Jamaica Board met and my matter was discussed but nobody has told me anything and I can only assume without any positive feedback there has been no resolution. There is a disciplinary process in West Indies cricket. Yet the board is allowed to be the complainant as well as policeman, judge, jury and executioner in my case. When I tried to respond to the accusations made against me, I am deemed to be out of place and trying to destroy West Indies cricket.
"I am now coming close to the end of my shelf-life as a cricketer ... and must concentrate on providing for my family now and in the future. On this basis, and not hearing from the West Indies Cricket Board with any clear pathway forward, I have come to the bitter realisation that I am not wanted by the board and all that has gone before in terms of reconciliation is a sham and a mockery. I see it as a scam to fool the people of the West Indies and the world into believing that they were serious about my returning to West Indies cricket.
"My eyes are open, my heart is clean, my conscience is clear and the voice of reason is loud in my ears telling me that I should close this chapter in my life. I am not going to be the WICB's whipping boy. We as West Indies players are admired throughout the world for our honesty and sportsmanship. Yet the custodians of West Indies cricket, the people who are responsible for the development of our heritage sport, have not dealt with us honestly.
"It is against this background that I have now decided not to wait on the WICB any longer but, while I still have the time and the skills, explore the opportunities available to me elsewhere. I do it reluctantly but have no choice. I have people to take care of and cannot sit for months waiting on WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire and the board.
"Despite all that has happened I am still hopeful that good sense will prevail and I would once again represent my country and my region in near the future. I wish to make it abundantly clear that I have not yet retired from any form of the game and remain available for selection for both Jamaica and West Indies. However, this is entirely out of my hands."
Gayle suggested his exclusion from the series against India was part of a long-term plan to remove him from the team. The problem, Gayle said, goes back to 2009, since when he had "been put in a no-win situation". Soon after Hilaire took office that October, he said, the board questioned the selectors' recommendation that he should captain the team to tour Australia. While eight members voted for him, five voted against. "Clive Lloyd, who had praised me highly before was one of them [who voted against him]. He never said anything to me about why he was no longer on my side. Joel Garner, who was the manager of the West Indies team and who worked with me closely on the Stanford game which we won, was another. Conde Riley from Barbados too. Most surprising is the man who said publicly that he always supported me as captain. Professor Hilary Beckles voted against me so when he says that he pushed for me to be captain you have to decide whether to believe Beckles or the minutes of the meeting. Gregory Shillingford of the Leeward Islands voted against me."
The Board set up a committee to meet with him, he said, which included Lloyd, Garner and Beckles. He was then criticised in coach Ottis Gibson's report on the 2010 World Twenty20, which said, "the captain was not a natural leader" and "not a student of the game and lacks tactical awareness on the field". However, Gayle wrote, Gibson never said anything to him before or after his report. "He is a man who sought my advice when things were not going well. Before he became the West Indies coach he used to call me often."
In October 2010, Gayle was sacked as captain, and says he still has no idea why. "I did not protest since the captaincy is not a right. It is a duty." He said he went on the Sri Lanka tour in November 2010 having recommitted himself to West Indies cricket and backing Darren Sammy, the new captain. He pointed to his triple-century in the first Test of that tour, and said: "Nobody questioned my commitment then."
After the World Cup, he said, the board was looking for people to blame for the poor performance of the team and "picked on me and the other senior players". This time it was not the captaincy that was the issue but the senior players - "Gibson said we lacked the hunger and the desire to succeed".
Gayle said he played with an injury during the World Cup and returned to Jamaica to get in shape for the home series against Pakistan. A camp was set up but nobody contacted him, and he was again ignored when the squad was picked for the first two ODIs. That, he says, is when he got an offer to play in the IPL - for Royal Challengers Bangalore - and went when the WICB made it publicly clear that Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Gayle were not considered for selection. "I did not turn my back on the West Indies because the West Indies had already turned its back on me. I was not in the squad and it was clear that there was no intention to pick me."
From there on things moved swiftly - and dramatically. Gayle said the controversial June 15 meeting with WICB officials, at which WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine was also present, was called to discuss his future but had a motive other than his reinstatement in the side.
On June 22, he said, he wrote to Hilaire in response to an email received the previous day in which Hilaire said he wanted to resolve the issue but sought to know what Gayle wanted him to do. Gayle said he had not received any guidance, other than what has appeared in the media, on what he needed to do to be included in the West Indies team.
He received a reply two days later in which Hilaire said that the issue was about a "history of misunderstanding, miscommunication and mishandling of issues, on both sides". He said Gayle would have to meet with the team management and after that with the selectors, and after that with the cricket operations department and only then would Hilaire meet him before reporting to the board. That, Hilaire said, would not be until August.
Gayle also referred to the WICB's claim that Ramnarine had threatened Hilaire with a chair at the June 15 meeting, saying nothing of the sort happened. He admitted tempers flared during the meeting but disagreed with accusations that Ramnarine had not represented Gayle's best interest in the meeting.