ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Kieron Pollard’s 19-month exile from West Indies’ one-day side ended yesterday when he was named in a 14-man squad for next month’s Tri-Nations Series, but there was no room for Twenty20 World Cup heroes Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy as the West Indies Cricket Board held fast to its contentious eligibility rule.
The 29-year-old Pollard has not played since he, along with the rest of the One-Day International squad, controversially stormed out of the problem-plagued tour of India two years ago in a squabble with the WICB and players union, WIPA, over money.
However, he has again found favour with selectors and joins fellow Trinidadian, off-spinner Sunil Narine, who is now poised to play his first international series since he was banned last November by the International Cricket Council for an illegal bowling action.
Off-spinner Ashley Nurse, uncapped in One-Day Internationals, has been called up along with fast bowler Shannon Gabriel who has also never played an ODI.
Jason Holder, appointed captain for the tour of South Africa last year, will lead the squad which has been selected only for the first four games of the Tri-Nations.
However, selectors have overlooked Gayle, Russell, Bravo and Sammy, all of whom were members of the successful Twenty20 World Cup squad in India last month and who remain four of the region’s best and most experienced one-day players.
The WICB’s eligibility rule requires players to make themselves available for the Regional Super50 series in January, if they are to qualify for selection to the ODI squad but all four players were campaigning in the Australian Big Bash League which clashes with the domestic tournament.
There was speculation – and hope – that the WICB would perhaps waive the rule and allow for the selection of all four players, especially after they displayed their worth in helping West Indies win the T20 World Cup.
And only last month, head coach Phil Simmons reiterated the need to have the best players selected for the Tri-Nations Series, noting that “the other two teams coming into this Tri-Series are going to be smiling” if the likes of Gayle and company were overlooked.
Tellingly, the four players account for 610 ODIs among them.
OVERLOOKED: No room has been four for T20 World Cup heroes (from left to right) Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell or Darren Sammy.
Pollard, meanwhile, had also been expected to turn out in the Big Bash but was ruled out through injury, leaving him eligible for West Indies selection.
He, along with Bravo, had been repeatedly overlooked since the collapsed India tour, leading to an outburst by Simmons last September when he claimed that “outside interference” on the selection panel was behind their exclusion.
T20 World Cup star Carlos Brathwaite has also been included in the squad while Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher, who also impressed during the tournament, have found favour with selectors again.
Much of the batting responsibility will rest on veteran Marlon Samuels and elegant stroke-maker Darren Bravo.
The Tri-Nations Series runs from June 3-26 in Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis and Barbados, and involves World champions Australia and South Africa.
SQUAD – Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, Shannon Gabriel, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Carlos Brathwaite, Sulieman Benn, Jonathan Carter, Andre Fletcher, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, and Jerome Taylor.