Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
National selection panel chairman, Courtnay Daley, says Jamaica will miss the services of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels at next month's Caribbean Twenty20 (T20) tournament, but it presents an opportunity for other players to step up and show their worth.
Gayle and Samuels will both be missing in action due to participation in the Australia Big Bash League, which began last Friday and is slated to end on January 12. The Caribbean T20 will be held between January 6 and 22.
"The fact that Gayle and Samuels will not be available will affect the team, but it also presents an opportunity for other players," said Daley who, along with fellow selectors Robert Samuels and Delroy Morgan, recently picked a fairly young 14-man squad.
Daley, Samuels and Morgan were assisted in the selection process by head coach Junior Bennett and captain Tamar Lambert.
"Everybody will just have to lift their game and try and do the best as they can with the resources the team has and hopefully it will be enough to see the country winning the tournament for the first time," added Daley.
Gayle and Samuels, who earlier this season were instrumental in Jamaica lifting the West Indies Cricket Board Super50 title, were omitted from the squad despite the possibility of them arriving in the Caribbean before the end of the tournament.
According to Daley, the 33-year-old Gayle, who is contracted to play for the Sydney Thunder, said he wanted to represent Jamaica, but was unable to leave Australia until his team had exited the Big Bash League.
As for Samuels, who represents Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League, Daley said efforts were made to contact him. However, a final position as to his availability could not be had before they had named the squad.
"Chris (Gayle) said if his team did not make it through to the knockout rounds he would make himself available, while we tried to get through to Marlon (Samuels), but could not get confirmation prior to the naming of the squad," explained Daley.
"But we could not select the squad based on that. It would mean that we would have 12 or 13 and not 14 players available and we could not afford to take that risk."
Trinidad and Tobago's West Indies pair, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, despite representing Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League, are expected back in the Caribbean for the start of the Caribbean T20 and have been named in Trinidad and Tobago's 14-man squad.
JA SQUAD: Tamar Lambert (captain), David Bernard Jr (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, André Russell, Danza Hyatt, André McCarthy, Jamie Merchant, Nikita Miller, Odean Brown, Krishmar Santokie, Yannick Elliott, Sheldon Cotterell, Aldane Thomas, John Campbell.