PM Mitchell blasts alleged interference in Windies selection process

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC) — Grenada's Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has labelled as “disturbing” claims by West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, of outside interference in the selection of the One Day International squad for Sri Lanka.

Mitchell, the chairman of Caricom's subcommittee on Cricket Governance, said yesterday any selection panel needed to be “free of interference, fear, or favour”, and joined with Simmons condemning “any act that undermined his leadership and the discretion of the Board of Selectors to field the best team”.

“It is my view that West Indies cricket is fortunate to have a leadership team that includes Head Coach Phil Simmons, Captain Jason Holder and chairman of selectors, Clive Lloyd,” Mitchell said in a statement. “The team is now at an important crossroads, and it will require wisdom and good leadership to chart and follow the right path.

It will, therefore, take the skill, motivation and priorities of the men who lead, and the players who follow, to restore the team to world prominence.”

Speaking to media in Barbados on Friday, following the end of the West Indies camp for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, Simmons lashed out at what he termed “too much interference from outside”, as he explained the continued absence of Trinidadian all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the ODI side.

Both players were dropped ahead of the ODI series in South Africa last January and also overlooked for the subsequent ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Though the ODI side for Sri Lanka has not been announced by the WICB, Simmons took the unusual step of revealing that neither Bravo nor Pollard would be a part of it. Simmons said both he and chief selector Clive Lloyd had been in favour of the players' re-inclusion, but the five-member selection panel had voted 3-2 against.

Courtney Walsh, Eldine Baptiste and Courtney Browne are the other selectors on the panel. “That's not the disappointing fact.

The disappointing fact is that you can lose 3-2 in a vote-off, but there is too much interference from outside in the selection of the ODI squad and it's disappointing for me to know that in any aspect of life… [people would use] their position to get people into a squad or in this case, get people left out of a squad,” Simmons chided.

Echoing Simmons's sentiments, Mitchell said it was important the selection process ensured that West Indies always had their best sides available. “Opposing teams, cricket lovers around the world, and supporters of West Indies cricket expect to see the best West Indies teams on the field. Clive Lloyd, the chairman of selectors, recently made that same point,” Mitchell said.

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