Chris Gayle has been cleared by the WICB to play for Western Australia in the Twenty20 Big Bash this season instead of his home side, Jamaica, in the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament. The dates of the two competitions clash, and Gayle has been granted a no objection certificate (NOC) by the WICB, despite the board's hesitation to confirm the move last month.
Gayle did not sign a central contract with the WICB this year, in the hope that it would allow him to choose more freely which games he played. He was a marquee signing for Western Australia last season, but managed only two matches before an injured side muscle ruled him out of the remainder of the competition.
"It was unfortunate that injury prevented me from playing the entire KFC Big Bash last year, but the West Australian public were very friendly and really welcomed me as a member of the Warriors squad," Gayle said. "I will be looking to repay that support and do all that I can to help the Retravision Warriors be successful in this season's Big Bash and qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 tournament."
The Big Bash runs from December 30 to February 5, and the Caribbean T20 is scheduled for January. Paul Campbell, the president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), said it was disappointing that Gayle would not be available for his home side but the JCA accepted that it was a reality of the increasing professionalism in the game.
"It is not about loyalty," Campbell told the Jamaica Observer. "We now need to move our mindset of understanding the professional landscape as it relates to players and administration. We can't take emotional positions. It can't be on a basis where if he doesn't make himself available this time you can't or won't select him at another time. We have to move away from that."
Gayle won't be the only West Indian player in the Big Bash, with Kieron Pollard expected to line up for South Australia and Dwayne Bravo set to return to Victoria. Pollard is already in Australia, and will play in this Sunday's All-Star Twenty20 match at the Gabba.