Once again, the matter of the eligibility rule has resurfaced within West Indies cricket. For many cricketers, the implications are many and in instances, severe: players not being able to represent the West Indies: they will not be able to honor their International contracts: Advertiser’s stand to lose big bucks due to non-appearance of these players in their marketing of the game.
This stems from the recent issue between Marlon Samuels and the West Indies cricket board, due to his non-selection for the upcoming tour of England. The eligibility rule stipulates that players must make themselves available for all domestic tournaments along with “A” Team matches in order to gain selection for any upcoming tour.
Many of these players have signed lucrative contracts with various international cricket leagues, which coincide with West Indies domestic matches. It would seem rather unfair for the board to insist that players be available for all domestic matches, while there is no guarantee of selection for any stipulated upcoming tournament. Jimmy Adams, the New Director of the WICB, welcomes the move to review this controversial issue, but admits there are unlikely to be any change in the near future.
Although all parties involved will meet, Adams is not convinced that there is likely to be any change, however, he is open for any discussion pertaining to such the issue. The West Indies Cricket board should, at all cost, be open for dialogue between the players and themselves in paving the way forward for Cricket, both regionally and internationally. Rules are not set in stone. The board needs to understand that within the cricket arena, there need to be some good amount of healthy, harmonious relationship between the WICB and players.
The WICB must ensure that the players feel some sense of involvement and inclusion in the decision making process, as opposed to feel as if everything they undertake met with some level of victimization. Is there a way that this situation can be resolved and avoid any recurrence of such? I do hope so, and I am thinking that maybe, just maybe, our domestic matches be scheduled earlier allowing our players the opportunity to play in these contracted international matches. What is ironic about all this is that many of the West Board members, come up with all sort of rules and regulations in order to confined players only to play for country. Was this the same for players who went to play county cricket? Did previous WICB boards have the stipulation that players had to play in domestic tournament and on the “A” Team as a prerequisite to making the squad?
That I cannot clarify at this time, but what I do remember is that not all our top regional players made it quickly into the squad after playing in a domestic league. Many had to sit by the way side and wait for the unfortunate opportunity to arise where a player was injured and they would replace them. Case in point is that of Junior Murray of Grenada, who became injured, and subsequently replaced by Courtney Browne of Barbados. Not only was Junior Murray injured but also his game was off form now, for which the board was happy to replace him with another wicketkeeper batsman waiting in the wings to represent the West Indies. Courtney, however, only fell victim to deception by flattery. He too did not last long.
I am still curious to know if it really makes any sense using the “Eligibility rules” against players when they might not be ready for an international tournament even though they have represented their regional side. The answer to that question remains unanswered. The board will say one thing while players and spectators think something different. At the end of it, all we need to find an amicable solution to such an issue for all parties involved to enjoy the sport with brings us all together.