More questions than answers
It seems the whole world is talking about the omission of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the West Indies World Cup squad, and Chris Gayle's subsequent rant on behalf of them.
Chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd and West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president, Dave Cameron, have been at pains to dismiss claims of victimisation, with Lloyd saying the two were dropped for purely cricket reasons. Very few are buying that.
For Bravo to move from being one-day captain, in November, to being unable to make the team, in January, does defy logic. It's difficult to believe the perceived roles of these two in the aborted Indian tour had nothing to do with them being left out.
What is also interesting is that Marlon Samuels, who was the lone voice among the players hitting out against the walkout, has suddenly been promoted to vice captain. Is it unreasonable to suppose that his elevation is a "reward" for his militant stance against his teammates? Most cricket pundits around the region, if they are honest, will tell you Marlon was never an ideal captain. He wasn't overly impressive in his handling of the Antigua Hawksbills in the CPL and is not seen to be the "people person", a prerequisite of all good captains.
A lot about this doesn't add up. Bravo and Pollard were seen as ringleaders on that ill-fated Indian trip and, even if you agree that they had to face sanctions, well, what about the other cricketers who walked off as well? I don't buy into the argument that the others were mere followers, that they just meekly followed Bravo and decided to quit the tour.
It's obvious that Bravo couldn't be that vigilant in his stance if he wasn't receiving strong support from the other senior professionals. These people are grown men who we must assume are not mere puppets. Several senior players also agreed to come home before the series ended. Since that Indian debacle, only Marlon has distanced himself from what happened. Why have the other senior players kept so quiet about their stance on the walkout? This should be a case of "if you are not for me, you are against me". If Bravo and Pollard are, indeed, facing the music for their role in quitting the tour, shouldn't the other senior players be punished too?
But now, we are being told that the leaving out of these two senior players is purely about cricket. Nobody wanted to accept that at first. However, the more time has gone on, the more we have had a chance to look at the figures of these two, the more we have to wonder if the selectors are, indeed, on the right track. Based on figures that I've gleaned from ESPN CRICINFO, Bravo's batting average for his last six innings in one-day cricket is 8.2. Pollard's average for seven games, before he was dropped, was 5.3. It's not a case of these two knocking over opposition cheaply with the ball either.
In the series against India, Bravo claimed four wickets for 130 runs. Pollard bowled only three overs for the entire year, so he couldn't claim to be useful to the team as an allrounder and, therefore, his batting stats must be the basis on which he plays. On these evidence alone, these two cannot claim victimisation. It could be argued that the selectors had just grown tired of picking experienced cricketers who constantly threaten to deceive.
Combination of factors
But why right after the aborted Indian tour, you may ask. The truth is that its human nature to treat people harsher when you think they are no longer acting in your best interest. A mother may put up with her teenage son living with her, until he is 21 without too much problems. The minute he breaks her rules, she might send him packing. She may still care a lot, but might well see throwing him out as a necessary part of his development. Somebody once called this tough love. Is this what we are seeing here?
Is Clive Lloyd and the board setting out to be vindictive? Are they trying to teach the players a lesson? Or is it a case that they are fed up with molly cuddling under-performing senior players and giving them an automatic spot? Could, somehow, the answer lie in all three reasons? I know what the answer is but, for now, what say you?
n Orville Higgins is a sports journalist and talk-show host at KLAS. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.