'There is no axe to grind' - Lloyd
Clive Lloyd, the former West Indies captain and current chairman of selectors, has said that the absence of "exceptional performances" from the pair of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, coupled with the selection panel's vision to move forward and look for young talent, were the chief reasons for omitting the two senior allrounders for the ODIs against South Africa and the World Cup.
Lloyd said the decision had been a difficult one and was debated heavily. He insisted that it was not the end of the road for the discarded pair and it was up to the players to regain their spots on the back of performances.
"It was a very difficult decision. I can tell you it went on for two days. We suspended it to give a chance to think about things and so on. There were a lot of discussions," Lloyd told ESPNcricinfo in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. "But then you get to a point where you say, right, this is where we want to go. It is very difficult for people to understand or to accept. But we want to move on.
"I don't think they have had any exceptional performances. Nobody (of the pair) has got exceptional performances as far as (playing for) West Indies is concerned. They have been there and thereabouts. We really and truly want to pick people on what they have done for our cricket and not for anyone else."
Despite being part of the 30 probables for the World Cup, Bravo and Pollard had already been left out of the five-match ODI series against South Africa. Considering their popularity in domestic global Twenty20 competitions, the news created furore not just in the Caribbean, but also outside.
Former West Indies fast bowler and Lloyd's former team-mate Michael Holding raised the question of why Bravo had been dropped when he was part of the ICC ODI Team of the Year for 2014. Pollard and Bravo are fourth and fifth on the list of highest run-scorers for West Indies since the 2011 World Cup.
Lloyd said there were already too many allrounders in the squad and that the selectors had to take a call. He also hinted that the performances of Bravo and Pollard that have registered in the fans' minds had mostly come in the domestic T20 leagues like the IPL.
Lloyd revealed that he had spoken with both players in person last week in Cape Town: "Yes, I spoke to them in Cape Town. They understand what the situation is. Don't forget, these guys have been playing for West Indies for a while. And they will be disappointed. But they have a chance of redeeming themselves and getting back into our cricket in the future. One is 31 (Bravo) and the other is 27 or 28 (Pollard)."
Lloyd also said he did not need to respond to Chris Gayle who called the selectors' move "ridiculous". Gayle had said that he was stunned to hear from Bravo that one reason for the pair being dropped was that the selectors wanted to rebuild the team.
"He (Gayle) might think so, but the point is that he is not a selector. He is a player," Lloyd said. "I have the greatest respect for him. But he will have to read what we are trying to do. He is part of that team that is going forward. Once he has been told what the situation is he will understand what we are doing."
Immediately after Bravo and Pollard were dropped from the South Africa ODI series but included for the T20 leg, the players' lawyer Ralph Thorne said that "a gentle form of ruthlessness" by the WICB led to their exclusion from the World Cup squad. Thorne accused the WICB of victimisation and not honouring the word of the board president Dave Cameron who had said that the players who abandoned the tour of India last October would be treated fairly.
Lloyd said he had explained the reasons, in writing, to all concerned parties, including the WICB, the West Indies Players Association, as well as the players' lawyers. He insisted there was no discrimination by the selection panel.
"No, no. That is not the way I live. I don't believe in things in that nature at all. There is no axe to grind with these guys. There are other people that could have…You know we could have said, "What about X, what about Y?
"This is the combination we came up with. And I am not one of those people who are going to direct to me what to do. I take orders from me, and nobody else. I am not into that situation where I will be worrying about what happened in India. That is past. That is gone. We are moving on."
Lloyd backed his statement by pointing out that the WICB had shortlisted Bravo as one of 12 players to be given a central contract for the 2014-15 season.
"Doesn't that tell you about something? He has been given a central contract. So that means he is not thrown out. That is what we should be talking about. We want people to feel they are still part of our cricket," Lloyd said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo