Seniors not axed, focus is on youth - WICB chief Hilaire
The WICB will expose as many young players as possible to international limited-overs cricket over the next two years in order to create a deeper pool from which to choose a team for the 2014 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup
The West Indies Cricket Board will give as many young players as possible exposure to international limited-overs cricket over the next two years in order to create a deeper pool from which to choose a team for the 2014 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup, its chief executive Ernest Hilaire has said. He spoke to ESPNcricinfo a day after West Indies left out Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, their three senior-most players, from the squad for the first two ODIs of the five-match series against Pakistan that begins on April 21.
Hilaire, though, insisted no one has been dropped permanently.
"We recognise we need to support our senior players," Hilaire told ESPNcricinfo. "We are also very clear that we need to have greater depth in the senior team. We cannot rely on one or two players. It is not a formula for success. I am convinced, and the board is convinced, that we need to start building a team that will win in 2015.
"There is no indication that any player has been axed. The selectors will explain to every player how they fit into the plan. There is no inherent right for players to play every match."
West Indies had a disappointing World Cup campaign, exiting the tournament following a big defeat against Pakistan in the quarter-finals and Gayle, Chanderpaul and Sarwan were subsequently left out of the start of the Pakistan series.
Hilaire added that Gayle was yet to undergo a fitness test after picking up an injury during the World Cup, though this was not mentioned when the team was first announced.
The policy of blooding as many new players as possible will be limited to the ODI and Twenty20 teams, with the Test team bearing a more settled look, because there are definite dates for ICC tournaments. "The Test schedule is different. It is home tours and away tours so it is a different strategy for limited-overs and Tests," Hilaire said.
The policy was put in place in October 2010 and was in evidence during the 2011 World Cup, in which Darren Bravo, Andre Russell, Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach and Devon Thomas, all younger than 26, got the opportunity to display their skills under pressure, with promising results. Hilaire said he expects more like them will see action at the highest level so that in two years time West Indies will have a core group of battle-hardened players that will give them a chance of winning major trophies again.
"We cannot keep seeking quick-fix solutions to West Indies cricket", Hilaire said. "We need a structured approach. We are making a heavy investment in cricket development. Lots of investment in youth programs. You need long-term plans. You do not become world beaters overnight. You need to build a winning environment."
Hilaire conceded that there would be setbacks along the way and expected criticism of the board's approach given the diversity in the region and the passion for cricket, but was adamant the board must do what it thinks is right.
"There is a bigger picture and that is the success of West Indies cricket."
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo