Gayle not discarded, assures JCA official

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Jamaica’s cricket operations manager Courtney Francis 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, 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 22-31 tournament. However, Jamaica Cricket Association 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.

Francis said while he was not privy to the selectors’ rationale, he believed Lambert’s outstanding record might have worked in his favour, along with the fact Gayle may have been rested following 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. Though Chris is here [it may be a situation of] giving Chris a little rest off the stress off just captaining in a West Indies series.”

He added: “Maybe this would just allow Chris to concentrate on his batting only and give us some mammoth performances which we know he’s capable of.”

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.

Jamaica will clash with Trinidad and Tobago, Leeward Islands and guest side Canada in Zone A. They play their first game against the Leewards on Thursday at Kensington Oval.

Francis said Jamaica would be going all out to win the tournament.

“The complement of the team is one that seems to be very balanced. There are a number of prominent regional players in the Jamaica line up,” he pointed out.

“And knowing Jamaica has been doing so well regionally with the senior programme to date, even though this is a different form of the cricket we expect them to go out and give a good account of themselves.”

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