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Low blow for Narine and Test cricket

West Indies spinner Sunil Narine will miss this month’s home Test series against New Zealand just because he failed to report on time (June 1) for a series preparatory camp due to his Indian Premier League final commitment for Kolkata Knight Riders.

On the surface, this appears to be an act of indiscipline; even a case of putting the interests of his franchise ahead of the West Indies. However, a closer look at his predicament reveals that he was being placed in an impossible situation by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) which is now driven by a new Director of Cricket Richard Pybus.

At a time when Test cricket faces its biggest survival test, the WICB has actually acted against the interests of the traditional game by creating a situation where their successful Test spinner will be out in the cold.

Instead of being practical, the WICB have chosen to be dogmatic, conveniently forgetting that they are equally responsible for the drop in the standards of West Indies cricket over the years.

It’s one thing to run a tight ship and get all players in tune with discipline norms; quite another to expect applause for demanding that a player must report to a camp on the same day his franchise plays a major Twenty20 final. It’s not that Narine is missing a match so why leave him out of a series?

Pybus has been quoted as saying, “The WICB policy requires players to commit to sufficient preparation leading in to a series as part of a culture of excellence.”

What the Board has done is to provide a ‘sufficient’ handicap to their team with Narine not being around for the Test series and how much of ‘excellence’ would be witnessed without their main spin gun?

Treating cricketers like schoolboys will not yield runs and wickets. Discipline is critical, but that must be instilled with a degree of fairness. As a former coach of two national teams (Pakistan and Bangladesh) Pybus should know better!

A bowler who has claimed 18 of his 21 Test wickets against New Zealand will not play against his favourite opponents. So much for making Test cricket more attractive.

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