St. John’s (Antigua), May 31 :
Offspinner Sunil Narine has opted out of the West Indies side for the Test series against New Zealand starting June 8.
Narine has informed the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that he would not be available to join the West Indies Training Camp which starts in Barbados June 1, reports CMC.
The Trinidadian spinner has decided to remain in India to represent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against Kings XI Punjab in the final of the Indian Premier League Sunday.
“Narine had been in discussions with the WICB and was required to inform the Board by May 24 whether he will join the squad currently in training in Barbados June 1,” said a statement from WICB released Friday.
“Narine had indicated by the May 24 deadline that he will join the squad June 1 as required. Narine subsequently told the WICB Wednesday that he would not be able to meet the June 1 requirement.”
The WICB release says Narine will be considered for selection to the squad for the two Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand July 5 and July 6 in Dominica.
WICB director of cricket, Richard Pybus, says the guiding principle of the West Indies First Policy, recently approved by the board of directors, requires players to make themselves available for team preparations.
“The onus of the WICB is to protect the integrity of international cricket at all times,” Pybus said.
“International cricket, and specifically Test cricket, is a priority and requires dedicated preparation which is integral to team success. The WICB policy requires players to commit to sufficient preparation… as part of a culture of excellence.”
WICB’s chief executive Michael Muirhead says players in breach of the June 1 deadline would not be considered for selection.
“It is his decision,” Muirhead said Friday.
“The cut-off date for joining the camp was moved forward from May 22 to June 1 specifically to allow those players involved in the IPL the opportunity for more matches. Anyone who is in breach won’t be considered for selection.”
Muirhead explained that if Narine misses the deadline, he would be unavailable for the first Test in Kingston June 8 and 12, but would remain in the chosen squad of 15 and be eligible for the remainder of the series.
The IPL management is reported to be involved in the issue and is said to have made a case to the WICB on Narine’s behalf.
Additionally, Narine has been seeking the support of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) through president and chief executive Wavell Hinds.
“This is in no way an act of defiance by Sunil. He is seeking the board’s flexibility for a couple of days’ leeway so that he can turn out for Knight Riders Sunday,” said Venky Mysore speaking on Narine’s behalf by telephone from his Kolkata office.
“He has told us that he came to do a job and wants to see it through to its conclusion. He also wants to represent West Indies against New Zealand. You can understand the quandary that he is in.”
A similar situation occurred on the West Indies tour of England in 2009 when then captain Chris Gayle applied for an extension to play one more match for his franchise team in the IPL.
The WICB acceded to the request and Gayle arrived in London two days before the Lord’s Test, triggering widespread criticism of the decision.
The West Indies players were released for the IPL with the stipulation that they would be available no later than one week before the Test series.
The camp, currently held in Barbados, wraps up June 3.
“We are not victimising him in any way,” Muirhead stated.
“Like all the players, he was aware of the stipulation under the NOC (No Objection Clause) well in advance.”
KKR, the franchise owned by Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, had promised to fly Narine back by the fastest available flights should the WICB alter its position, estimating that he could join the West Indies squad by June 3.
“He has been a vital cog in our team since he joined us in 2012,” Mysore said.
“He is the leading wicket-taker in IPL 2014 with 20 wickets but, just as importantly, he has been a tremendous team man.”
Narine is one of six players with WICB Grade A contracts for 2014, each worth $120,000.
The others are Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels.