West Indies news February 20, 2012

Jamaican prime minister backs Gayle

ESPNcricinfo staff

Jamaica's prime minister Portia Simpson Miller has demanded that a resolution in the impasse between Chris Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board be found quickly. Speaking at the Jamaica Cricket Association awards, Simpson Miller said that Gayle was being treated unjustly and deserved a place in the West Indies team. She also expressed concern that Sabina Park was not allocated a match for West Indies' upcoming home one-day and Test series against Australia.

"Justice delayed is justice denied and we demand that a resolution be found as quickly as possible," Simpson Miller said on the Gayle issue. "Cricket is too important to the people of Jamaica and the West Indies for this to be left down the wicket."

Gayle last played for West Indies in the 2011 World Cup, after which a conflict with the WICB has kept him out of the setup. In October 2011, the WICB released a statement saying it would consider Gayle for selection if he retracted statements he had made criticising the board and its officers. The release said the board would appoint a facilitator to assist Gayle in complying with their requirements. Gayle, though, said the WICB needed to be specific about what he was supposed to apologise for. He said the board was playing mind games with him, and that he would consider their request at the end of the Regional Super50 competition.

Jamaica won the Regional Super50 with Gayle finishing second on the run-charts. He has continued to collect big runs in Twenty20 competitions and scored his first first-class hundred in over a year, a remarkable innings of 165 off 155 balls out of a total of 298, against Windward Islands earlier this month. However, there have been no significant developments in his relations with the WICB.

Simpson Miller spoke about the progress of Jamaican cricket, and the success of its various teams, and emphasised that Sabina Park was a venue that should be hosting matches whenever teams toured the West Indies. "Sabina Park is one the finest stadiums anywhere and I am concerned that Jamaica is not a venue for a Test against Australia.

"I understand that the JCA is trying to get one of the games against New Zealand [who are scheduled to tour in July 2012] and you have my support in this. Sabina Park, Jamaica, is suitable for any tour of the West Indies."

Simpson Miller urged the Jamaican board to promote cricket in schools. She also said the WICB had done nothing with the recommendations made by a committee under the chairmanship of former Jamaican prime minister PJ Patterson on how the structure of West Indies cricket could be improved. "You can, however, depend on me as prime minister of Jamaica to follow up on this," she told members of the JCA. "All of us - players, administrators and fans - have a responsibility to restore this sport, in which we have done so well, to its former glory."

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

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