Blow for Windies as players opt out of selection

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – West Indies are likely to be under-strength for the all-important ICC World Cup qualifiers, with several players opting out of selection for the one-day tournament in Zimbabwe.

The Express newspaper here reported Thursday that up to five players could miss the March 4-25 campaign after opting to play in the Pakistan Super League, which bowls off February 22.

Cricket West Indies chief executive, Johnny Grave, said he, along with director of cricket, Jimmy Adams and chief selector, Courtney Browne, had all discussed the matter with the players in question but had been unable to reach a resolution.

Grave called the situation “hugely disappointing” but said selectors would now focus on those players who were “fully committed.”

Cricket West Indies CEO, Johnny Grave

“If players don’t want to play, we have to respect that,” the Englishman told the Express. “We’re going to select players who are fully committed to West Indies cricket.”

Several West Indies players are expected to turn out in the PSL, with the likes of stars Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis and Carlos Brathwaite, all expected to line up for various franchises.

Of this group, only Lewis was a part of the last ODI squad which were whitewashed by New Zealand in the recent three-match series last December.

Darren Bravo, meanwhile, has not played for West Indies since his controversial Twitter rant against CWI president, Dave Cameron, which resulted in him being sent home ahead of the Tri-Series in Zimbabwe in November, 2016.

However, Grave said Bravo had been given several opportunities since March last year to return to international cricket but “for some reason he’s declined them all.”

Narine, the region’s leading spinner, has not represented the Windies in ODIs since the Pakistan series in United Arab Emirates in November, 2016.

CWI are desperate to have their best squad available as they look to dominate the ICC World Cup qualifiers and secure one of the two remaining berths for the 2019 showpiece in England.

They were forced into the qualifying tournament after failing to make the top eight in the ICC one-day rankings by the September 30 cut-off date last year.

The Windies have been installed in Group A alongside Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and the winner of February’s ICC World Cricket League Division 2 tournament involving Canada, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

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