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JCA: Gayle still in picture

Kevin Pile

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A LEADING Jamaica cricket official has dismissed suggestions that Chris Gayle’s rejection as Twenty20 captain has any serious implications for his future leadership of the national squad. In fact, Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) cricket operations manager Courtney Francis has argued that with Gayle having played very little cricket for Jamaica in recent seasons, Tamar Lambert’s appointment as skipper would augur well for the continuity and cohesiveness of the squad.Jamaica’s selectors delivered a shock on Wednesday when Lambert was chosen ahead of Gayle to lead the 14-man squad for the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament which bowls off in Barbados next Thursday.“I would want to say no to that [Gayle being discarded]. That could not have been the case. Chris could not have been West Indies captain and just been overlooked,” Francis told CMC Sports in a telephone interview from Kingston.“Chris has not played a lot of games for Jamaica over the last couple of years and with Tamar being around the players for an extended period, it stands to reason they [selectors] may have wanted to keep Tamar for continuity. Tamar is more familiar with the guys.“[It’s best to] have Chris just come in and do what he does best: hit away the ball and win matches for us.”Gayle, fresh from leading West Indies against South Africa in two T20s, five One-Day Internationals and three Tests, had been expected to lead the squad for the July 22 to 31 tournament.However, the JCA selectors opted for Lambert, who has led Jamaica in the four-day first-class competition in recent seasons, guiding them to a hat-trick of titles.While Lambert gained the nod as captain, Nehemiah Perry resigned as the chairman of selectors amidst speculation that he was upset over the snubbing of Gayle.Francis said that while he was not privy to the selectors’ rationale in going with Lambert, he believed his outstanding record might have worked in his favour, along with the fact that Gayle may have been rested after a gruelling series against the Proteas.“I cannot speak with any great authority on why the selectors found favour with Tamar,” Francis noted.“I don’t know if it has to do with his record or with continuity as it speaks to the Jamaica line-up.”Gayle has been named in a strong squad which includes the returning Marlon Samuels and experienced left-hander Wavell Hinds who featured in the recent World Twenty20 Championship in the Caribbean. (CMC)