St Johns: Reports that senior players in the West Indies team may be dropped permanently have been greatly exaggerated, Chief Executive Officer of the West Indies Cricket Board Ernest Hilaire said on Saturday.
West Indies have excluded former captains Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, and Ramnaresh Sarwan, their three most capped players, from their squad for the first the opening exchanges in their home series against Pakistan, starting this coming week.
The move has prompted ridicule in the Caribbean of the WICB, its selectors, and its selection policy, and has led to speculation that the days of Chanderpaul, Gayle, and Sarwan under the maroon cap are numbered.
Emotions have been running so high that Frank Anthony, the sports minister in Guyana, the homeland of Chanderpaul and Sarwan, intends to write the WICB a stern letter questioning their selection policy.
Neil Kumar, the director of the National Sports Council in Guyana, has also supported the minister, but he feels that Caribbean heads of government need to get more involved in the administration of the game in the region.
Hilaire has defended the WICB's policy, and indicated that they intend to give as many untried players as possible exposure in international limited-overs matches in the next two years with the ultimate goal of winning both the 2014 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup.
"I have read sensational stories in the media about players being sacked and axed, but I would appeal to the public to understand that this is about building a pool of players for the future," he said.
"We are exposing players at the international level to see how comfortable, competent, and capable they are."
Hilaire noted that the WICB had set out a selection policy last October to guide the selectors, ironically chaired by Clyde Butts, the former Guyana captain and West Indies off-spinner, and the panel was just following this outline.
"We had set the 2015 World Cup as a target for when we should have a team which will challenge as World champions," he said.
"The selectors have not said that they are axing, dropping, or dismissing any particular player permanently."
"They are pursuing a policy of exposing newer players and giving other players an opportunity to play. I would not go down the road of saying that any player will not play for West Indies again."
Hilaire said that not everyone would be happy with the decisions of the WICB and the selectors.
He stressed however, the bigger picture is the success of West Indies cricket.
"We expect that there will be public criticism because we are a diverse region and there are always some people who believe that some players must always play, and there will be some people who believe that we need to try new players," said Hilaire.
"But there is no indication that any player has been axed, or will not play for West Indies again. The selectors will speak to each of the players to explain what the plans are, and how they fit into the plan."
Hilaire emphasised that the sidelining of Chanderpaul, Gayle, and Sarwan was not a knee-jerk reaction to a disappointing performance at the World Cup.
Darren Sammy's side entered the competition ranked at No.9 in the ODI World Rankings and reached the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Pakistan in a low-scoring match.
But they failed to engender confidence, winning matches only against lightweights the Netherlands and Ireland, two ICC Associate nations, and co-hosts Bangladesh, who eased ahead in the World Rankings to No.8 before the World Cup.
Ahead of the Pakistan series the WICB has adopted a new slogan for its Twitter account, "New look. . .New attitude. . .New era!"
The series starts with a Twenty20 International against Shahid Afridi's side on Thursday at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in the island of St. Lucia prior to five ODIs and two Tests.