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ENGLAND V WEST INDIES ODIS

Windies stars set to return after backflip

18 July 2017

Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle could once again be ODI teammates // Getty Images

West Indies board relaxes controversial selection policy ahead of 2019 World Cup qualification campaign

The likes of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo could return to the West Indies one-day side as early as September after the national cricket board announced a "temporary amnesty" on their stringent selection protocols.


With the Windies facing the likelihood of not earning automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, the board has reversed their controversial stance that players must make themselves available for domestic tournaments in the formats of the game they wish to play at international level.

The relaxing of this policy, which has long alienated the Caribbean's best players and seen the once mighty cricketing nation plummet down the world rankings, could see their stars return to the national side on a permanent basis.

Windies upset a beauty in eye of Holder

The Windies are currently the world's ninth-ranked ODI team and look set to miss automatic qualification for the next World Cup, meaning they will instead have to play in a mini qualification tournament next year against Associate nations.

"We recognise that it is highly unlikely that we will now automatically qualify for the 2019 World Cup," said WICB CEO Johnny Grave.

"So whilst the qualifying tournament has yet to be confirmed by ICC, we may only have eight ODIs against England and New Zealand in the next six months to prepare.

"It is crucial that we can have our best-performing Windies players available for selection in these important games.

"The agreement (with the West Indies Players Association) forms part of a wider strategy to be more inclusive and to improve player relations aimed at re-engaging all players within our system so that they can perform at their best for the Windies teams."

The news means star players like Gayle, Bravo, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell (who is currently serving a 12-month ban for a doping violation) - whose opposition to the WICB's selection policy has seen them play primarily in domestic T20 leagues around the world in recent years - are eligible to return as soon as the ODI leg of their tour of the UK in September.

The once unthinkable prospect of the Windies failing to qualify for a World Cup, a tournament they won in 1975 and 1979, has become a very real possibility given their recent slide down the rankings and the fact the 2019 tournament has been reduced to just 10 teams. The recent ICC Champions Trophy, featuring only the world's top eight teams, was the first time the Windies have failed to qualify for a major tournament.

Ricky Ponting's insight into Chris Gayle

"There is still a lot of life in Chris Gayle," he told ESPN.

"That's my target - to play the 2019 World Cup and have some part to play.

"Even if it is going to be one Test match, a farewell Test match, I definitely want to play. But if it is not possible, if the body doesn't allow me to, then I will announce my retirement from Test cricket.

"We don't want to miss out on a World Cup event. It was sad what happened in the Champions Trophy, with no West Indies team there for the first time. That is disappointing. We don't want to miss out on a World Cup, that will be more devastating for us."

About the Writer

 @martinsmith9994
@martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

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