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Doubts emerge over Gayle's England availability

Nagraj Gollapudi
April 30, 2012 « Hodgson holds FA talks over England job | Chartbeat test »
Will it be Somerset or West Indies after the IPL for Chris Gayle? © AFP
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Chris Gayle's return to the West Indies squad is likely to be delayed after fresh doubts emerged over his availability for the ODI leg of the upcoming England tour, pouring cold water over the hard-earned resolution brokered between him and the West Indies Cricket Board by CARICOM (the Caribbean Community).

Earlier this month Gayle had sent a request to Ernest Hilaire, the WICB chief executive, asking the board if he would be selected for the ODI leg of the England tour in June, in order for him to clarify his availability to Somerset, with whom he had signed as an overseas player for the summer. Hilaire, in his response, has accused Gayle of "reneging" on his original word which the player had given in the presence of St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, stating he would make himself available to play for West Indies over Somerset.

"I write to you with respect to the upcoming West Indies tour of England scheduled for May 2 - June 25, 2012. As previously indicated, I am willing to make myself available to play for West Indies for this tour after my obligations to my IPL team are fulfilled," Gayle said in his e-mail, available to ESPNcricinfo, dated April 20.

Gayle, who last played for West Indies in the 2011 World Cup, told Hilaire that having signed a contract with Somerset, the county required him to "give an undertaking" of his availability for the entire duration of the contract, which clashed with West Indies' tour of England. Somerset have five Friends Life t20 games scheduled during the time West Indies play three ODIs and a T20I against England.

"I would appreciate if I could be informed whether I will be contracted for the West Indies Team for England Tour before I give my commitment to Somerset," Gayle said. "I only ask this so I would be in an informed position before I respond to Somerset, given the fact that I indicated my availability to the West Indies Team after the IPL," Gayle said, requesting an immediate reply.

In his response, sent on April 26, Hilaire said that "the Board has now considered your request and is extremely disappointed, that following the progress we had seemed to be making towards final agreement, you now seem unwilling to honour the commitment you made with respect to your Somerset contract."

According to Hilaire, Gayle had sent a "side letter" to Gonsalves on March 23, stating that he would "forego" his Somerset contract in order to make himself available to play for West Indies. "You reiterated this commitment in your April 1 letter, in response to WICB's request for clarification," Hilaire said. "Your most recent communication appears to suggest that you may be reneging on your availability as you now state that you are willing to make yourself available and not that you are making yourself available. A player cannot be considered for selection if he has not made himself available for selection."

According to Hilaire, during the meeting between Gonsalves, Gayle and the WICB, it was made clear to Gayle that selection matters did not come under the "purview" of the board. "The Board cannot give any commitment to any player with respect to his selection for a particular match or tour; but we will ask the Chairman of Selectors to have a discussion with you on issues relating to your selection at the earliest, in anticipation that you will meet all eligibility requirements," Hilaire told Gayle.

The ball is now once again in Gayle's court with Hilaire asking the player to come up with an instant reply.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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