BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – With the critical tour of England looming, chief selector Courtney Browne has said there is still no timetable for Darren Bravo’s return to the West Indies side. In fact, Browne told the Massy United Insurance Line and Length TV show that the responsibility was now on the 28-year Trinidadian to indicate his availability, with a solution to the impasse already on the table. “I’m not sure (when he will be available for selection again), as I have said many times,” Browne said. “There was some agreement between both parties (the West Indies Cricket Board and Bravo) but I think the ball really is in Darren’s court now to determine that (availability).” Bravo and the WICB have been locked in an impasse ever since the player was sent home ahead of the Tri-Nations Series in Zimbabwe last November for a controversial tweet in which he labelled WICB president Dave Cameron “a big idiot”. Last month, newly-appointed WICB chief executive Johnny Grave said a deal had been struck with Bravo’s representatives but that move stalled because of legal action the player initiated against the board.
Two words which describe insanity are “foolishness” and “madness”.
And what about the timing of the act? Ask Shannon Gabriel, the big West Indies fast bowler and rank No. 11 batsman.
With seven balls remaining in the third and final Test against Pakistan at Windsor Park in Dominica last Sunday and survival being the password as fielders clustered around the bat, Gabriel lost his composure and essayed a slog off leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
The ball took the inside edge and bowled him to give Pakistan a 101-run win. More telling was a 2-1 success for Mibah-ul-Haq’s team, which meant that Pakistan had won a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time since their inaugural tour in 1958.
It was a most painful moment for the West Indies team and their supporters. After all, until then, Gabriel had kept a fairly cool head, having faced 21 balls in partnership with Roston Chase, who hit his second century of the series and third in ten Tests – an unbeaten 101.
Set a victory target of 304 and starting the final day on seven for one, West Indies knew their main goal was to battle for a draw.
After slipping to 93 for six in the 44th over when Shane Dowrich was controversially given out caught at short-leg by Babar Azam off Yasir, it was generally felt that Pakistan would probably go on to win easily.
But the efforts of Chase, who batted all told for 366 minutes, faced 239 balls and struck 12 fours and one six, along with support from captain Jason Holder, Devendra Bishoo, Alzarri Joseph and Gabriel, kept interest in the match alive until that crazy stroke from Gabriel.
West Indies could have their limited-overs stars in the fray for national selection, particularly for the 50-over format, after Courtney Browne, the chairman of selectors, hinted at the possibility of the WICB revisiting the eligibility criterion.
Currently, the WICB has followed a stringent policy of considering only those players who have featured in the domestic 50-over competition, one that goes back to 2010, under the regime of Julian Hunte and Ernest Hilaire.
The current criterion has ruled out a bunch of senior players including Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell. None of them were part of West Indies' most recent series against Pakistan, which they lost 2-1, falling further behind in their race to be among the top eight teams in the ICC rankings and so qualify directly for the 2019 World Cup. But if this change in selection policy is cleared, West Indies could significantly boost their chances of fielding a full-strength team leading up to the showpiece event.
"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.
Barbados – Inspired by the progress he witnessed in the just-concluded series against Pakistan, West Indies head coach Stuart Law says the regional side will be targeting an upset when they face England in their next Test series this August.
West Indies are ranked a lowly eighth, only behind minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, while England are fourth, but Law believes once his side can build on the positives from the recent series and use the preparation time before England wisely, they will be able to reap positive results.
“We can continue to work hard. When we get to England, we’ve got a pretty extensive preparation period before the first Test,” the Australian said.