The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government have decided to intervene in the West Indies Players Association's (WIPA) ongoing dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over the future of former captain Chris Gayle. The move comes on the heels of Gayle's public and emotional statement against the board over his continued exclusion from the team, including a request for government intervention.
CARICOM chairman Dr. Denzil Douglas said the heads of government had agreed to resurrect the prime-ministerial sub-committee on cricket to try to work out a solution. "Today we had to take certain decisions with regards to the impasse that seems to be ongoing between the regional players association and the WICB," Douglas told the CMC Sports Wire. "We believe that West Indies cricket has not been one of the vehicles of which the Caribbean man today can be proud of moving himself upwards."
CARICOM's announcement came after Guyana president Bharat Jagdeo's scathing criticism of the board in reaction to Gayle's statement. "It comes back to who owns West Indian cricket," Jagdeo said. "The board thinks it owns West Indian cricket, my belief is that it belongs to all of us, the people of this region.
"[In] many countries, when you have failures consistently, the board goes because sometimes it is the problem. Here it does not seem as if this is going to happen.
"Gayle is being treated unfairly by the WICB. You can't not tell him anything; he needs to earn too, and then you have a tour coming and when he goes off, he gets another contract then you're concerned that he has left the region."
Jagdeo also claimed the board was following its own agenda against some of the players, and was highly critical of coach Gibson's interference with senior cricketers.
"This can't be right. Something is wrong," Jagdeo said. "It is all about pettiness and the culture of going with people who are compliant and I think we need to change a lot of these people. We need to have term limits there too. We need to have serious term limits on these boards."
The Gayle-WICB standoff was sparked off when coach Ottis Gibson criticised the senior batsmen following the team's quarter-final exit at the World Cup. Gayle was subsequently ignored for the Pakistan series, along with fellow seniors Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Gayle travelled to India to participate in the Indian Premier League - where he was the player of the tournament - leaving the WICB disappointed since they were under the impression he was undergoing rehabilitation.
Gayle reacted by slamming the board in a radio interview with KLAS Sports, saying he had been left with no option but to sign an IPL contract since the WICB had disrespected and mistreated him by not checking with him over his fitness before announcing the squad. He was consequently left out of the squad for the India games as well, and a heated meeting with the board - also attended by WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine - did little to improve matters, prompting Gayle's impassioned release that stated he was going to seek options outside the West Indies to further his cricketing career.