Bravo says `honest discussion’ needed on contentious Windies first policy

Dwayne Bravo (left) celebrates West Indies’ success at the 2016 T20 World Cup in India with fellow veterans Darren Sammy (centre) and Chris Gayle.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad  (CMC) – All-rounder Dwayne Bravo is anticipating an “honest discussion” between the new Cricket West Indies (CWI) leadership and players regarding the contentious ‘West Indies First’ policy, and has warned that finding a workable solution will be crucial to the future success of the limited overs side.

A former one-day captain, Bravo, said the enforcement of the policy in recent years had marginalised key white ball players, and had ultimately led to the decline of the Caribbean side in both the Twenty20 and one-day formats.

“They (CWI) cannot just continue to be hard masters to say West Indies First policy – it can’t work like that,” the 35-year-old told i95.5 FM in an interview Thursday.

“It doesn’t make sense to demand these things on players. Players have opportunities now, it’s no longer West Indies First; it’s sit down, have an honest discussion, know what’s best. You guys (CWI) get back our services now and it’s only going to be better for West Indies cricket if we play.

“And if we go down the road of West Indies First policy and we say ‘fine, we’re not playing’ then you see the results. For example, (look at) the one day team, they haven’t won a series going on five years. The last time the one-day team won a series was when I was captain of the team.

“The T20 team, look at it now, after Darren Sammy is gone and removed – look at the state of West Indies T20 team. The T20 was our most dominant team and then look at the condition of West Indies T20 team now all because of the previous administration being vindictive and small-minded.

“It’s not going to help Caribbean people, it’s not going to help Caribbean cricket. Everyone just needs to be smart and want the best.”

The controversial policy, enforced under the last Dave Cameron-led administration, required players to participate in CWI domestic competitions, in order to be eligible for international selection. It was an attempt to force players to commit to West Indies duty over the lure of global Twenty20 leagues.

However, the policy resulted in several of the region’s high-profile players being sidelined from international selection, and the weakening of the limited overs side.

West Indies lie eighth in the ICC Test and ODI rankings are ninth in T20s – the format in which they are the reigning World champions.

Bravo said going forward, it was essential that players and CWI strike the right balance between franchise commitments and international selection.

“I already have contracts from now until 2021. There is a tournament in every country where cricket is played and I had a chat with Floyd Reifer who is the coach and let him know: listen, some of these series that are going to be played are obviously going to be clashing with these leagues,” Bravo said.

“It’s going to be unfair for West Indies or the board to ask us to give up these contracts to come back and play; but we can give up a league to play a series but they also have to allow us to play couple leagues also.

“They can’t expect us to cut our contracts. We have to find a balance where everyone is happy. It cannot be one-sided; it cannot be West Indies way or no way. We have to sit down as professionals and big adults.”

The next 12 months will be crucial for West Indies as they prepare to defend their T20 world title next year in Australia in the event which runs from October 18 to November 15.