By Ron Shillingford
West Indies selectors are reconsidering the rule that limited-overs players are ineligible for selection for the national team.
Courtney Browne, the chairman of selectors, has hinted that the West Indies Cricket Board is reconsidering the eligibility criterion.
Since 2010, the Board has had a stringent policy of considering only players who have featured in the domestic 50-over competition, when Julian Hunte and Ernest Hilaire were the Board chiefs.
The rule has exempted players of the quality of Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell and results have suffered as a consequence.
They did not play in the West Indies’ most recent series against Pakistan, which they lost 2-1, which meant they fell further behind in a bid to be among the top eight teams in the International Cricket Council rankings and so qualify directly for the 2019 World Cup.
Hopes are that West Indies will change this policy so that they are able to field a full-strength side. It would not only improve results but improve morale in the players’ camp after years of division with the Board.
“There is some discussion going on about revisiting the eligibility rule,” Browne told Line and Length, a Barbados-based network. “I know it’s with a working committee. That will then go to the Board. But we have to understand our domestic cricket is key.
“Players coming out of domestic cricket and showing they can perform at the international level is important. Yes, we have to look at it (the eligibility rule) but also be mindful that we have to develop our own domestic product, a stage where we can have a very good standard of regional cricket.”
Browne did however say that youngsters who had come through the domestic system would not be ignored. Vishaul Singh and Shimron Hetmyer, who captained West Indies to the Under-19 World Cup title last year, are two examples he cited while explaining the need to maintain continuity. But the pair may not be ready at senior level. They only scored 159 runs in 12 innings between them in their first three Tests in recent months.
“We have a lot of young developing players, they’re all bunched together in terms of number of Tests, that’s par for the course,” Browne said. “When you have a bunch of people you’re exposing to international cricket, you will tend to get these sorts of performances. But the good thing about it is, you have the coaching team and you have to give them some time to develop players.”
Browne said he likes the enthusiasm of the new novices which has pleased the fans.
Bravo recently made himself available for T20 selection but said he would not give up his worldwide contracts to play domestically because selection for West Indies would still not be guaranteed. He also said that if significant selection changes were made he may be prepared to reconsider.