KINGSTON – The Jamaica Cricket Association chairman of selectors, Courtnay Daley, has defended the decision by the national selection panel to omit Chris Gayle from the country’s 14-man squad for the lucrative Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament that started last night in Trinidad and Tobago.
Gayle, who is presently participating in the Australia Big Bash League, would have been available for the two-week Caribbean Twenty20, due to the early exit of his team, Sydney Thunder, from the Big Bash T20.
But according to Daley, who along with Robert Samuels and Delroy Morgan, leads the national selection panel, it was a decision that had to be made given the possibility of injury to players.
“It is a case where we have to bite the bullet and move on,” said Daley.
“It’s Gayle yes, but injuries can happen (to the players selected) and if that was to happen, what would we do?
“It’s a risk we were not prepared to take, even if other teams are willing to do so and from here it is just a matter of we will have to play with who we have,” he added.
Gayle, one of the leading Twenty20 cricketers in the world, will play his final match for the Thunder tonight.
Each of the teams in the tournament will play six preliminary matches, thus leaving the possibility for Gayle to play in Jamaica’s final three preliminary round games.
The typically explosive left-hander could have also participated in two potential post preliminary round matches – the play-off between the second – and third-place finishers of the preliminary round for a place in the final, and the final, which is set for January 20 in St Lucia.
Gayle, according to Daley, gave a commitment to play for Jamaica once the Thunder exited the Big Bash League, while Jamaica’s other player, Marlon Samuels, could not be reached for a final word in time for the submission of the squad in late November.
Two-time winners and joint hosts, Trinidad and Tobago, worked out an arrangement with top players Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, who are also participating in the Big Bash League.
Narine played in the tournament opener against Jamaica last night, and Pollard is expected home later in the week. This is based on an arrangement between the respective clubs of the players, the Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers and the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board.
The Caribbean Twenty20 is the most lucrative of regional tournaments, with an overall budget of US$125,000, and a winner’s prize of $62,500.
The event, which is in its fourth year, is also a qualifier for the cash-rich Champions League Twenty20 tournament. The Champions League Twenty20 winners take home US$2.5m, runners-up US$1.3 million and losing semi-finalist US$500,000.