GAYLE BREAKS SILENCE ON WICB TREATMENT
(WIPA) I, Christopher Henry Gayle, am making this statement so that all my friends, fans and followers who continue to wonder why I am not being picked for the West Indies team despite being fit, available and in form will know the truth considering the many rumours and statements that have been made as it relates to this issue. Until now, I have kept my silence, but I believe that the time has come for you to all know what I plan to do about this extremely frustrating and humiliating situation.
Ever since I was a little boy growing upin Rollington Town, and living in the shadow of Sabina Park I had two dreams. The first was to play for Jamaica and the second to play for the West Indies. Fortunately, and thanks to the Almighty, I have been able to achieve both of them. I have been Captain of both Jamaica and of the West Indies, and have worn both uniforms with pride and served with distinction.
I find it really painful now to hear that I did not give my best or that I lost my commitment to the cause of West Indies Cricket. This is not true. I have always given my all. I have always played with my heart and soul. I am not a boastful person. I normally don’t speak until I have to. I try not to show in my face what is in my heart but now my heart is heavy. I have played with injuries. I have played with pain. But nothing in my life has been more painful and more injurious to my spirit than what has been done to me in the past few months. Nothing.
I want to take you back to September 2009 when Ernest Hilaire who was not yet the CEO of the West Indies Cricket Board cast doubts on my being retained as the West Indies Captain despite my performance in that role. I thought that what I was seeing was a statement made in error. I did not know at the time that what I was seeing was the writing on the wall and what was being written about me was not pleasant or true.
Ernest Hilaire acted quickly. At a meeting of the WICB held in October 2009, as soon as he took up office, the Board questioned the recommendation of the selectors that I should be Captain of the team to tour Australia. Eight members voted for me and five members of the Board voted against me. Clive Lloyd, who had praised me highly before was one of them who did not want me as Captain. He never said anything to me about why he was no longer on my side. Joel Garner who was the Manager of the West Indies team and who worked with me closely on the Stanford game which we won voted against my being Captain of the West Indies. Conde Riley from Barbados voted against me. Most surprising is the man who said publicly that he always supported me as Captain. Professor Sir Hilary Beckles voted against me so when he says that he pushed for me to be Captain you have to decide whether to believe Beckles or the Minutes of the Meeting. Gregory Shillingford of the Leeward Islands voted against me. The Board decided to appoint a Committee to meet with me and it should be no surprise that among the members of that Committee were Messrs. Lloyd, Garner and Beckles. Looking back, Inow realise that I have been put in a no-win situation since 2009.
I found out how bad things were when the WICB held a meeting in St Lucia in July last year. I saw the Minutes of the Meeting later. In reporting on why he thought that the West Indies had not done well in the T20 World Cup, the Coach, Otis Gibson, said “the Captain was not a natural leader” and that “Senior players and some others lack a passion for the game.” He also said that “there was no evidence of leadership qualities among the senior players” and that the “Captain is not a student of the game and lacks tactical awareness on the field.”
The sad and horrible thing is that Gibson never said anything to me about how he felt about me before or after his report. He is a man who sought my advice when things were not going well. Before he became the West Indies Coach he used to call me often. I could never imagine that he would deliberately try to destroy my character, reputation and livelihood or question my commitment to West Indies cricket. I would not have believed, until I saw it in black and white, that he would devalue my leadership and try to destroy me without giving me a chance to respond. The WICB should have invited me to that meeting to face my accuser and, as Captain, to give my views about why we did not do well. What also hurts me is that there are three members of the Jamaica Cricket Association who are on the WICB and none of them told their colleagues on the Board, “Wait. We believe that Chris should be allowed to defend himself” or even “We need to hear from the Captain.” None of them.
Coach Gibson recommended to the Board that they should “select the team on character” which means that by leaving me out the WICB, including the Jamaican Directors, feels that I have no character.
In October I was sacked as Captain and still have no idea why. I did not protest since the Captaincy is not a right. It is a duty. I went on the Sri Lanka tour having recommitted myself to West Indies Cricket and giving the new Captain the assurance that I would support him. I played the best test innings of my life in the first test and contributed 333 runs out of a team total of 580 in that match. Nobody questioned my commitment then.
It was after the World Cup when the Board was looking for people to blame for the poor performance of the team that they picked on me and the other senior players. This time it was not the Captaincy that was the issue but the senior players. Gibson said we lacked the hunger and the desire to succeed. Would I be where I am today as a cricketer if I lacked the desire and hunger to succeed? It was the easy way out. There are people who will constantly refuse to look deeply into themselves and question their own actions and motives while there are others to blame. I was an easy target and my 333 was forgotten, and all my years of blood, sweat and toil for the West Indies cause was abruptly cast aside.
I played with an injury during the World Cup and returned to Jamaica to get myself in shape for the Home Series against Pakistan. A camp was set up and nobody contacted me. I was ignored. The squad was picked for the first two ODIs. I was again ignored and saw in the newspapers that I was omitted. I read the comments of the WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire who said that we, the senior players, thought we were bigger than the team and all we wanted was money. I then got an offer to play in India and went when the WICB made is publicly clear in its release to the media that Sarwan, Chanderpaul and Gayle was not considered for selection. I did not turn my back on the West Indies because the West Indies had already turned its back on me. I was not in the squad and it was clear that there was no intention to pick me. I was being punished for the failure of an entire team and also of the administration.
What I did in India for the Bangalore Royal Challengers is history. The management and fans of the team treated me with respect and showered me with love and support. I did respond to the accusation made by the WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire that implied that I lacked commitment to West Indies Cricket. I reminded him that I had to pay my own medical bills, which I hoped to be reimbursed at some stage. The feeling by some people is that I started the whole thing. I did not. What I have shown you is that there is a pattern in the attempt to paint me into a corner and destroy my career and reputation. There was a pattern to marginalising me. Yes, therewas a pattern and what came next was the proof.
The proof came in a speech made by a Director of the WICB, Hilary Beckles, who had opposed my captaincy in 2009 despite his claims that he supported me. Beckles compared me to a “Don” and my captaincy as “Donmanship”. He likened me, Chris Gayle, to the notorious criminal and alleged drug dealer Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Beckles says his second home is Jamaica so he knows the implications of what he said but in an effort to avoid the consequences, he says he was talking in a private capacity and not as a Director of the WICB. The other Directors, especially the three from Jamaica who are on the WICB, did not say anything or do anything to clear my name or to get answers from the WICB. They could have requested an emergency meeting of the WICB to ask why I was omitted and targeted but they did not. They left me hanging out on a branch and were,at the same time, helping to cut that branch.
I want to tell you that I am not going to hide and say that this statement is in any other capacity. I am Christopher Henry Gayle and I stand by what I say. I am a professional cricketer and the former Captain of Jamaica and the West Indies. This is my capacity. This is my job. This is my livelihood and this is my life.
I was not surprised when the WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire sent me a letter on June 2, 2011 in which they accused me of a number of incidents including “making myself unavailable for the home series against Pakistan, my interview on KLAS radio in Jamaica and several “tweets‟ which have suggested a general disenchantment on your part with West Indies cricket and the West Indies Cricket Board.” He said that the Board wanted to make my considerable talent available to the West Indies and international cricket.
I took the Board seriously and went to the meeting which was held in Jamaica a few weeks ago. The meeting ended without any commitment with regard to my future selection for the West Indies team again. I thought that was the purpose of the meeting andwas foolish enough to believe that it would end with a decision about when I would be back on the team. Instead I have read about an incident between the President of WIPA Dinanath Ramnarine and the WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire that makes me question whether I was at the same meeting. Ramnarine was not the only person to lose his cool in that room and I can understand if someone falsely accuses you of attempting to siphon funds into some account that you will be understandably upset. The accusations made by the WICB are not true. I can say without fear of contradiction, and what I am saying has been supported by other people who were present at that meeting, that there was no picking up of any chair and Ramnarine never threatened Ernest Hilaire.It is unfortunate thatRamnarine is being accused of not representing my best interest at that meeting, a view I strongly disagree with. It was also reported that in some quarters that Ramnarine was responsible for the breakdown of the meeting, a view I strongly disagree with also since the meeting went on for more than one hour after certain accusations were made by the CEO WICB Ernest Hilaire at the meeting. But that was not why we were there and what we went there for was never accomplished. When I saw the misleading reports coming out I realised that I was being used to cast blame on someone else and the meeting had other motives than my reinstatement. In other words it was a diversion of the real issue and the outcome of the meeting was clearly predetermined.
I was again put on hold. My career was put on hold. My future was put on hold. My life was put on hold. Ernest Hilaire said he could not do anything until he had spoken to the Board, the selection committee, the management and, although he didn’t say it out loud, the media.
I believe now it was deliberately staged to give the impression that the Board wanted me back and that the intention was always to string me along and to fool the people of the West Indies.
I made it clear that I was still willing to meet with the Board to resolve the issues. On June 22, I wrote to WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire who had sent me an email the day before saying that I would also like to resolve the issue, and while I am willing to meet I would like to ask what it is you would like me to do? I told him that I have not received any guidance, other than what has appeared in the media, as to what it is that needs to be done for me to be included in the West Indies team. I said that I am putting in writing the willingness to meet with you as soon as possible. I also said that time has been wasted and it would seem that the delays will ensure I am unable to play for the entire home series. I pointed out to him that a meeting was not requested until the India series had almost begun, and the meeting was then delayed until after the Test Team for the 1st match was chosen and it has taken over a week for this meeting request to be sent.
The WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire wrote me back on June 24th complaining about my antagonistic approach and the tone of my email. He said that the issue is more than my radio interview but is about a history of misunderstanding, miscommunication and mishandling of issues, on both sides. It cannot be easily swept under the carpet with the hope that it goes away. He said that I would have to meet with the team management and after that with the selectors and after that with the cricket operations department and only then he would meet with me before he could send a report to the Board. He said he would not be available to meet with me until August. This means that I will definitely not be playing against India and that I will be cooling my heels until after August- more than two months away and even then my matter would go to the Board if the WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire believes we have a final and agreed position.
I was glad that the Board admitted its own guilt in the situation and despite the fact that there seemed to be no end to this, I then met in yet another meeting with the Coach and the Team Manager on June 24th 2011 in Jamaica.I tried my best to compromise with the two representatives of the Board. Still, despite this meeting and the fact that both sides agreed that significant progress had been made, I am still on hold. My career is at a standstill. My hopes of representing my country at home in the West Indies have been destroyed. My contribution has been devalued and the fans of the West Indies who believe I can make a difference have had their hopes dashed. After the conclusion of this second meeting, my suspicions were confirmed and it was now beyond doubt that there was never any real intention of resolving any issues concerning me at the first meeting. The WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire’s letter of June 24th 2011 also confirmed this as well.
I have now reached the stage where I have to say that enough is enough. I understand that the WICB and the Jamaica Board met and my matter was discussed but nobody has told me anything and I can only assume without any positive feedback there has been no resolution. I played cricket for Jamaica and served the Board well. I would have thought that from the beginning of this whole attempt to discredit me that the Board would have done or said something on my behalf. I don’t want them to cover up for me but at least to ensure that I received natural justice and was able to respond to my accusers. They have all been silent. The three members on the WICB Board have not asked for an emergency meeting, as they have the right and power to do, so that we can get everything cleared up. Instead they leave me out here to dangle in the wind.
There is a disciplinary process in West Indies Cricket. Yet the Board is allowed to be the complainant as well as policeman, judge, jury and executioner in my case. When I tried to respond to the accusations made against me, I am deemed to be out of place and trying to destroy West Indies cricket.
I am now coming close to the end of my shelf-life as a cricketer. While other professionals can plan on a career from the time they graduate from University to when they retire in their sixties, most cricketers have an average of eight years – between 24 and 32 – to earn enough money for the rest of our lives. Some are lucky to be coaches or commentators. I have no such option at this stage and must concentrate on providing for my family now and in the future.
On this basis, and not hearing from the West Indies Cricket Board with any clear pathway forward, I have come to the bitter realisation that I am not wanted by the Board and all that has gone before in terms of reconciliation is a sham and a mockery. I see it as a scam to fool the people of the West Indies and the world into believing that they were serious about my returning to West Indies cricket.
My eyes are open, my heart is clean, my conscience is clear and the voice of reason is loud in my ears telling me that I should close this chapter in my life. I am not going to be the WICB’s whipping boy. They have said they will root me out and they have succeeded in doing so by using the sort of underhanded tactics while attempting to ascribe blame to other people for what is clear is a well planned set of action.
We as West Indies players are admired throughout the world for our honesty and sportsmanship. Yet the custodians of West Indies cricket, the people who are responsible for the development of our heritage sport, have not dealt with us honestly.
It is against this background that I have now decided not to wait on the WICB any longer but while I still have the time and the skills to explore the opportunities available to me elsewhere. I do it reluctantly but have no choice. I have people to take care of and cannot sit for months waiting on WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire and the Board.
As for the Jamaica Cricket Association they have let me down badly even though I did meet with the new President of the JCA, Mr. Wright and Mr. Hinds but nothing has been done.
Despite all that has happened I am still hopeful that good sense will prevail and I would once again represent my country and my region in near the future. I wish to make it abundantly clear that I have not yet retired from any form of the game and remain available for selection for both Jamaica and West Indies. However, this is entirely out of my hands.
I want to say to my colleagues on the team, that I have opened the batting for the West Indies against some of the fiercest fast bowlers in the world bowling at almost 100 miles per hour. I have stood up to them as I am standing up for what I believe is right. I want to tell them that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
I appeal to the Heads of Government of CARICOM to do something about this situation. West Indies Cricket is different from the West Indies Cricket Board. West Indies Cricket and West Indies Cricketers need help. Since you are the people who represent the fans and all the other stakeholders, it is time for you to act.
Finally, I want to thank you all for your support and look forward to your continuing that support in future as I follow the path that the Almighty has mapped out for me. I place my trust in God and believe that if your heart is pure and you have faith in Him, you will always triumph against oppression and adversity. When one path is closed, there is another path opened for the righteous and pure in spirit. I now set out on that path with confidence, safe in the assurance that I will succeed. <ENDS>