'I had no other choice' - Gayle
Chris Gayle has said the way he had been treated by the West Indies board (WICB) had left him with little choice but to join the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad for the 2011 IPL and miss the home series against Pakistan. A day after the WICB said it was disappointed at how Gayle had handled the IPL issue, the batsman has hit back, claiming the board had not checked on his rehabilitation from injury after the World Cup, and that he had been "stunned" to learn from the media of his omission from the squads for the Twenty20 and the first two ODIs against Pakistan.
In a hard-hitting interview with KLAS Sports, a radio station in Jamaica, Gayle also poured scorn on the role of the West Indies coach, Ottis Gibson, dismissing him as a "user", and blaming him for wrecking the confidence of his fellow veteran batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan during the World Cup. "The coach messed up the man mentally," he said. "The players were not in the right frame of mind. Sarwan was batting without a free mind. Players told me they lost confidence. A player speaks his mind in team meetings openly… The player said his piece… After that, he never play another World Cup match. But me talk with my mouth and me talk with my bat."
"A group of players were selected for a training camp in Barbados, and I never got a call, nobody spoke to me, and I decided to leave it alone," Gayle said. "I continued my training programme, and I came to find out via the media that a Twenty20 squad was announced, and a one-day international squad was announced, and I was stunned when I saw a big headline in the newspapers, 'Gayle, Sarwan, Chanderpaul dropped'."
Gayle said no one from the WICB had contacted him before the squads had been named. "The only communication I have had with anyone connected with the WICB was when I sent a text message to (team physio) CJ Clark, and gave him an update about how I was doing," he said. "I told him I was feeling good, the progress I was making; I was running, I was in the gym, and working. His only response was that he would send a fitness programme, which I did not receive until the IPL offer had presented itself."
"I wanted to get back on track as quickly as possible. I wanted to play and represent West Indies. This was my ultimate goal, since I did not have a contract, but I was forced into this decision because teams were picked, I was not informed about what was happening, and I did not know what the future would hold. The matches could be played, and other players do well, and I could still be sitting on the sidelines, so I had no other choice.
"I have served West Indies for many years, but I was disrespected a lot, and I have been playing under a lot of pressure. I can't sleep properly. I need to get this off my chest. I want everybody to print what I said, I want to clear the air and I want them to ease up. WICB… back up offa my back."
Gayle's explanation, however, was at odds with what the WICB said in a release soon after it granted him the no-objection certificate, clearing his participation in the IPL. The board claimed it had been in communication with Gayle.
"At the conclusion of the cricket World Cup, Gayle underwent a medical examination in the UK," the WICB said. "Following Gayle's consultation with a UK doctor it was determined that he would require at least two to three weeks of rest before returning to training.
"The WICB medical personnel had been communicating with Gayle on the status and management of his injury since his return to Jamaica following the Cricket World Cup, this included arrangements for his rehabilitative programme. Gayle was undergoing rehabilitative work with an appointed physiotherapist and had already attended ten sessions. The next phase was to include sport-specific training along with a running programme.
"After the resumption of training the WICB team management would have organised a fitness test to assess Gayle's fitness and decisions would have then been taken about his selection to the West Indies team to face Pakistan. It is clear that there was no way that Gayle could have been considered for selection for the first two ODIs given the facts outlined above."
The WICB said it was surprised to learn that Gayle had been making arrangements to play cricket in India when it was under the clear impression that he was undergoing rehabilitation work and about to resume training. "In discussing his application for an NOC, the WICB has repeatedly informed Gayle that he is expected to resume training after which he would be required to undergo a fitness test and once passed fit, he will be considered for selection for the remainder of the Pakistan series."