x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Chris Gayle is the need of the hour

No player is bigger than the game, but Chris Gayle is the best West Indies player and the board needs to hand him a recall.

If the West Indies can afford to keep out a batsman who has scored 14,460 runs in Test and 50-over cricket, they must have some serious talent at their disposal.

The facts, however, suggest otherwise. In their last 14 completed innings in Tests and one-day internationals, the West Indies have a top score of 275, which came against Ireland.

At the moment, they are being given a lesson by a second-string India team, yet the obstinate officials of the West Indies Cricket Board refuse to bring Chris Gayle — owner of two triple centuries — back into the team until he explains his criticism of the board.

Of course, Gayle refuses to meet them and this saga is a microcosm of the way West Indies cricket has fallen from grace. It points to a culture of intemperance that has been the singular cause of cricket's ruin in the Caribbean islands.

It is not the lure of basketball in the US, nor the riches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) - but plain mismanagement.

There was no IPL or basketball when Sir Frank Worrell refused to tour India in 1948, or when Brian Lara led the rebellion of 2004. Successive administrations have failed to address players' concerns.

The WICB did not call Sir Hilary Beckles, one of their directors, to apologise when he described Gayle as a "Don" and likened him to a drug lord during a lecture last month. Yet, they expect Gayle to apologise.

They seem to be sticking to their perverse moral high ground, but the sooner they come down, the better. No man is bigger than the game, but the West Indies desperately need Gayle.