Chris Gayle has been axed as the West Indies captain and replaced by the allrounder Darren Sammy in a shake-up that has also resulted in Brendan Nash being handed the vice-captaincy. However, Gayle has kept his spot in the squad for the three-Test tour of Sri Lanka in November, despite turning down a central contract with the WICB last month.
The board has also demoted Dwayne Bravo, who was the vice-captain under Gayle but like his captain did not agree to a new WICB deal. The pair, along with Kieron Pollard, have forged lucrative Twenty20 careers in domestic tournaments including the IPL and refused central contracts which stipulated that they must make themselves available for the West Indies team at all times.
That has paved the way for the Windward Islands captain, Sammy, to take over the leadership, despite not being a regular member of the Test side. He and the Australian-born Nash will be in charge of the Test squad until the end of the 2011 home series, ending Gayle's three-year period at the helm of the team.
Gayle led West Indies to three wins in 20 Tests as captain, and they sit seventh on the ICC Test rankings list and eighth in the ODI rankings. Sammy said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading the side, even though in Sri Lanka the squad will be missing several experienced men, including the now uncontracted Denesh Ramdin, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jerome Taylor.
"Being appointed West Indies captain is an honour and distinction which I will treat with the highest regard and dignity," Sammy said. "I believe my captaincy of the Windward Islands, a young team which I have been moulding into playing consistently competitive cricket, will stand me in good stead as West Indies captain as we work on building a team for the future.
"I have always given my all when I prepare and play for the West Indies and nothing will change now. I know this will be a difficult challenge and I will take the torch from Chris and hold it high as we forge ahead. I have been playing for the West Indies since 2004 and over those six years I have built strong relationships with many players and I expect to have the full support of the squad."
The decision to appoint Sammy and Nash into positions of responsibility is indicative of the WICB's desire to achieve stability in leadership from players whose availability isn't in question. Ernest Hilaire, the board's CEO, said: "Chris Gayle, the former captain, led the West Indies during a challenging period and the board thanks him for stepping up then but it is now time to past the mantle on as the West Indies rebuilds."
The squad picked for the Sri Lanka series features several players who didn't play against South Africa at home earlier in the year, West Indies' most recent Test assignment. Adrian Barath, the opener who burst onto the international scene with a century on debut against Australia in Brisbane last year, returns after hurting his knee in April.
Carlton Baugh, who has not played a Test since 2004, will vie with Devon Thomas for the role behind the stumps, while there was also a maiden call-up for the Jamaica allrounder Andre Russell. The opener Devon Smith, who played his most recent Test in May 2009, is also back after averaging 61.50 while leading West Indies A in the first-class fixtures in England this year.
West Indies squad: Darren Sammy (capt), Brendan Nash (vice-captain), Chris Gayle, Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh (wk), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Nelon Pascal, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Devon Thomas (wk).