Tony Becca: Let them wait or stay out
The West Indies' new head coach, Phil Simmons has hinted that he is willing to open the door for the West Indies players involved in the Indian Premier League to get back into the West Indies team in an effort to make the team as strong as possible in their bid to move up the rankings.
Simmons, a former West Indies opening batsman and one of the nice guys of West Indies cricket, is a good coach, no doubt about it, and in his first assignment with the West Indies team, he surprised many by getting his charges to dig deep, to play some good cricket, and to draw the series with England.
For the team ranked number eight to win a Test match, especially in the way they did it, and to draw a series with the team ranked number three was indeed a good result, and may be, just may be, that is the reason why Simmons is thinking of offering the "olive branch" to the IPL players.
Simmons, who intends to speak to the players about the situation shortly, was quoted as saying in Port-of-Spain last week: "Obviously, everybody wants to see those guys playing Test cricket for the West Indies because they are certainly good enough to play that format."
Everybody, probably, except the team's bowling coach, the now affable Curtly Ambrose.
Ambrose says no
In response to a question re the Simmons position, Ambrose said: "For me, I think not. No disrespecting to the players who have gone to the IPL, but you can't really decide to go away and walk straight back into the team."
Ambrose is right on the ball. The players cannot be allowed to walk away without a word, to play IPL while the West Indies is playing Test matches, to earn their bounty, and then to walk back into the team when they feel like, or when it suits them, and at the expense of players, many of whom were not ready but were happy to play, and all who bore the brunt of the burden in their absence.
And some of the IPL players had no respect for West Indies cricket, or for the West Indies team, or for the West Indies Board, or for the West Indies people. One of them arrived the day before a Test match in England, one of them refused to come home to attend a training camp before a series, two of them retired from Test cricket in a huff and a puff, and one of them took "an indefinite break" from West Indies cricket.
On top of that, and regardless of the reasons, some of them were responsible for the failed tour of India, the embarrassment of the West Indies, and India's demand for US$42 million as compensation.
The board must also share the blame for the abandonment of the tour, but the players, those who led the walkout and those who followed without even a murmur, must take the bulk of it, some, obviously, more than the others.
There are better ways to do things, to show your discontent, than to walk out, than to show no respect for the people of the West Indies, the poor people of the West Indies who may be expected to pay US$42 million for the players' folly, or for their one-upmanship. These are the people they (the players) could not represent because they (the people) could not pay them what they wanted to be paid.
No, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, AndrÈ Russell, and also Chris Gayle must wait a while, a good while, or probably stay out.
Phil Simmons, as do many West Indians, feels that they can all get back into the team or can make the team. But, apart from T20 cricket, or one-day cricket, apart from Lendl Simmons, I differ with them, and for many reasons.
Lendl Simmons deserves a place in the West Indies team, but right now, Dwayne Bravo would be a liability. Narine's bowling action is suspect; Pollard has never played a Test match and does not seem capable; Russell has proved himself nothing but a slugger and, therefore, not good enough; and Gayle, apart from his injuries, seems to have passed it, either that or he is not interested in playing Test cricket.
Gayle, if he is fit enough, if he is serious enough, and if his general easy-going attitude would not affect the team, is the only one, excepting Lendl Simmons, I would select on his ability.
Although some players can play any form of cricket, playing T20 cricket is diffe-rent from playing one-day cricket or Test cricket.
On top of everything, why fool around with this team which showed a little fight against England, and why look to players who were in the team while it stayed at number eight in the ranking while losing easily to every good team around.
The West Indies, or rather the coach, if he has the power
to make the move, should be looking in front of them and not behind them. They should continue fighting with Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, if he is fit, Marlon Samuels for a while more, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul for two more Test matches.
The West Indies should also be looking at others like Carlos Brathwaite, Jonathon Carter, Leon Johnson, Nicolas Pooran, Shane Dowrich, and Brandon King while looking for two or three genuinely fast bowlers.