ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Former Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Lester Bird has called on the West Indies Cricket Board to end its shut out of Chris Gayle and has given head coach Ottis Gibson a failing grade for his management of the team’s senior players.
In a candid, hard-hitting release, Bird said Gayle was too important to the success of the regional side to be isolated and said the WICB needed to “take the lead” in finding a solution to the long-running impasse.
Gayle, one of World cricket’s most destructive openers, has not played for West Indies in almost a year since he was highly critical of the Board and Gibson in a highly charged interview with a Jamaica radio station following last year’s World Cup.
“As far as I am concerned he (Gayle) is more valuable to our cricket than (WICB president) Julian Hunte, (WICB chief executive) Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Ottis Gibson and (West Indies captain) Darren Sammy singly and collectively,” Bird contended.
“A team derives market value and draw crowds from two things, either the team is formidable and has a winning record or it has batting or bowling stars that draw crowds.
“Today we have neither. We need a new structure to propel West Indies cricket forward and we need it urgently.”
Bird also blamed Gibson for the impasse, arguing that it was the coach’s public criticisms of the senior players following the team’s failure at the World Cup, that triggered the controversy.
While not singling out any player, Gibson told reporters following West Indies’ exit from the tournament that the senior players “didn’t stand up”.
“Gibson should have been able as good coaches do to renew and re-energize senior players as (Ramnaresh) Sarwan, Chris Gayle, (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul and (Dwayne) Bravo, deepen their commitment to the development of West Indies cricket and themselves,” argued Bird.
“Instead he has alienated them and I am sure many others who for fear have failed to come forward. It is clear that these are not happy times and it is also clear that Gibson is not a good coach having failed the test to prove his ability to manage senior players who do have their own strong personalities he tries to convince us that the future of West Indies cricket lies with a bunch of inexperienced young players.
“The problem is his own personality and frankly speaking incompetence and unprofessionalism.”
He added: “When a coach is chosen for an American Baseball team, the main skill required of the coach is to manage egos as Kobe Bryan, Lebron James, etc. and mould them into an effective team. Our coach has failed miserably in this.”
The WICB has mandated Gayle retract his comments before being considered for selection again but the player has refused.
Unless a solution is found hastily, the Jamaican is unlikely to feature in Australia’s tour of the Caribbean starting later this month.