With West Indies in a race to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, their cricket board has offered “temporary amnesty” to the players who do not fit their selection criteria in order to have them available to play ODIs. This could pave way for the return of stars such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree as soon as later this month when the team is scheduled for a tour of England.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) has had a stringent policy of picking only those players who are active in the domestic one-day tournament for 50-over internationals. But, with one eye on putting the best XI on the park, the board and the West Indies Players Association have called a truce.
On September 30, the top-eight ranked teams as per the ICC will gain automatic qualification to the next World Cup. CWI chief executive Johnny Grave admitted to the possibility that West Indies – ranked ninth, 10 points below their closest rival – might not make the cut. Should that be the case, West Indies will then have to go through a 10-team qualifying tournament and unless they end up in the top two, they won’t make the showpiece event in England.
“We recognise that it is highly unlikely that we will now automatically qualify for the 2019 World Cup, so whilst the qualifying tournament has yet to be confirmed by ICC, we may only have eight ODIs against England and New Zealand in the next six months to prepare,” Grave said. “It is crucial that we can have our best performing Windies players available for selection in these important games.”
Grave also indicated that the CWI’s cricket committee was due to present their findings on player eligibility criteria by the end of July. These recommendations will then be put forward at the board of directors meeting in September. But in the meantime, “all CWI registered players will be available for selection,” the press release said.
Additionally, CWI is compiling a list of all male and female and age-group players in the system. “This will show commitment on the part of the players to be available for the format/s of the game they wish to play; a commitment to participate in the regional set-up and to honour the system to be in place by then,” board president Dave Cameron said. “We must be able to identify the full slate and categories of players we have in the West Indies.”