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Let’s bury the hatchet!

Andi Thornhill

Let’s bury the hatchet!

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What is the latest development in the ongoing saga between Chris Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board?
We have a right to know as we get closer to a big home series against Australia starting next month.
As former Australian captain Steve Waugh said recently, the presence of Gayle at the top of the order could make a difference against a team that has just blown away India and could be well on the way to recapturing the top spot in world cricket.
Gayle is one of the most feared batsmen in the game and the resurgent Aussie pace attack could be put to the sword by the brilliant Jamaican.
However, unless we let bygones be bygones, the Aussies may be spared the lashes that could come from the rampant blade of an inform Gayle, a former West Indies captain.
Truth be told, though, I believe some mixed signals may have been sent recently when the man who took over the captaincy from Gayle did not play for the Windwards against Jamaica in the first match of the regional four-day competition.
Darren Sammy’s absence led to public speculation that he missed the game to avoid coming face to face with the man who criticized him openly in that now well documented interview on a Jamaican radio station soon after the West Indies’ failed bid at the World Cup last year.
That interview became the centrepiece of the standoff between Gayle and the board and some of the content of Gayle’s hostile, verbal assault still seem to have left gaping wounds in the flesh of those attacked.
The authorities have demanded nothing less than an apology which the stubborn Gayle has been reluctant to give on the grounds that he has nothing to apologize for.
Spoke from heart
In his own assessment, he spoke from his heart and the truth was stated about the way things were at the time. If time is said to be the greatest healer then it doesn’t seem to apply in this case.
I could be wrong but it seems that Sammy may still feel he won’t be comfortable in Gayle’s presence and it might be better to keep him at a distance for now, at least. How much more time does he need?
The West Indies captain’s perceived stance may very well reflect what others in a position to decide Gayle’s fate think too. If this is so, it would appear that an early settlement is unlikely and there isn’t much time to kiss and make up before we tackle the Aussies.
What complicates Gayle’s return is the fact that the board is siding with their captain and coach Ottis Gibson.
How they feel about the situation counts more than any of the other bruised parties because Gayle has to be in the dressing room with them.
He has to comply with their instructions and to do this, there must be communication.
Theoretically, Gayle can say sorry but still harbour the same feelings as expressed in the radio interview, so even if he apologizes will they be sure that his well-known influence on players would not disrupt what Gibson, in particular, wants
to achieve in terms of discipline and team unity?
That question will only be answered if he gets the chance to play for the West Indies again, but I think there’s an element of fear in the bosom of the authorities that Gayle’s strong personality may be counter productive to the attainment of their goals.
If this is so, the decision may already have been taken to proceed without him and work with who you have once you are sure that they are committed to the cause. Young prospects like Kraigg Brathwaite, Adrian Barath and Keiran Powell will be more manageable at this stage of their careers so it will be easy to make Gayle a non-factor.
Further, if we are truthful, we would admit that each showed signs on the recent tour of Bangladesh and India that they possess qualities you can work with. None of the three matches Gayle’s dominance.
The question of merit, though, comes into play and it’s clear to all that the Jamaican qualifies to walk back in the team with his eyes closed.
We have seen his continued explosive prowess in the T20 leagues around the world and most recently how he plundered the Windwards attack, albeit minus Sammy.
Let’s face it, West Indies can do with a committed and focussed Gayle at the moment as he and Shivnarine Chanderpaul can continue to serve as anchors and mentors to the youth while we battle through the fields of transition.
It is heart-breaking to the average West Indies supporter to see us still lingering close to the bottom of the international ranks given where we were up to 1995.
It is a fact that Gayle and some of the other senior players have been part of those experiences and you could argue that their presence may not change the course of things at the moment, but I believe the seeds sown by the Gibson team may not be far from bearing fruit.
I think a Chris Gayle can still lend a hand to the process of renewal in our cricket and a way should be found to allow him to do it because he has stated consistently that he is still committed to the West Indies.
The forces that have tried and failed in the past to get a solution that will satisfy both Gayle and the board, need to mount that effort urgently because we are only a few weeks away from the march of the Australians into our backyards.
The stakes in West Indies cricket have a higher premium and the Gayle/WICB standoff appears to be oblivious to this. Indeed, it maybe symbolic of all the hiccups we are seeing at various levels of our cricketing organization at the moment and the constant message is that we are not going to get it right again on the international fields of play if we are not strong in the boardroom.
Gayle vs the West Indies Cricket Board?
For me, a case that is overrated.
Can’t Gayle and the board do the same?
They can unless, of course, there’s something we don’t know!
? Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning freelance journalist. Email [email protected]

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