After hammering a match-winning 90 that helped West Indies win the Twenty20 series against South Africa, Chris Gayle launched a scathing attack on the West Indies Cricket Board and the Clive Lloyd-led selection panel for dropping the senior pair of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the ODI series and the World Cup. Repeatedly labelling the move as "ridiculous", Gayle felt it was a case of "victimisation" against the two Trinidadian allrounders.
"How can those two guys not be in the team?" Gayle, who is the first current player to raise his voice against the omissions, said during the post-match media conference at Wanderers. "To me it got to be like victimisation when you look at it towards those two guys. Come on, guys. It is just ridiculous. Come on. Ridiculous. Really hurt. Ridiculous. Honestly, it throw me off. We can only talk. We can express our feelings, which I'm doing at this point in time. The squad already is announced. It is just sad.
"It is a big batting line-up when you look at our team. But it's just disappointing when you look at the 50-over format - we won't be at our strongest," Gayle said. "We don't have our strongest team without Pollard, nor Bravo. So that is actually sad for us. It is a really big blow for us to actually lose two key players, two key allrounders as well, very good in the outfield. I don't know what's the history behind it, but it is a ridiculous selection from my point of view."
On Saturday, the WICB announced the 15-man World Cup squad to be led by Jason Holder with Marlon Samuels as vice-captain. There was no mention about Bravo and Pollard, who had been earlier been ignored for the ODI series against South Africa. Gayle, whose blazing starts were instrumental to West Indies chasing big totals in successive matches, including the highest successful Twenty20 chase on Sunday, said he was glad he could dedicate the series victory to Bravo and Pollard.
"I don't know where our cricket is actually going to …where we are heading with this sort of situation. But it is really sad. Actually we won the [Twenty20] series with our best team and now there will be changes, with two of our biggest players in ODI cricket not involved in the 50-over format and the World Cup. It really hurts but I'm really, really glad that we won the series for Pollard and Bravo."
Gayle's blunt attack came a day after the WICB released a list of 12 players granted central contracts. That list did not include Gayle, who said he could only express disillusionment over the the omissions at this stage, but smelt Bravo and Pollard paying a price. Although Gayle did not mention it directly, he was referring to the India tour last October when Bravo, as ODI captain, led the boycott against the WICB and the West Indies Players' Association over a contracts dispute and pulled out of the tour.
What astonished Gayle further, he revealed, was when Bravo told him that the selectors' vision was focused on re-building the team. "Bravo said to me, to be honest with you, the team they selected for the World Cup is actually to re-build for the next World Cup, which I can't understand. Basically what they are telling us: we are not going to win the World Cup [but] build for the next World Cup which is really ridiculous."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo