The Master Blaster, Sir Vivian Richards is siding with Sir Curtly Ambrose in the latter’s public spat with the Universe Boss Chris Gayle.

Apparently having had his fill of detractors questioning his selection to the West Indies 15-man squad for the ICC T20 World Cup later this month, Chris Gayle has reacted strongly and channelled his rage at Sir Curtly Ambrose, who has opined that he would not start the Universe Boss once the two-time champions begin their campaign for a third title.

Ever since the squad was named last month, West Indies selectors have come in for criticism for the selection of Gayle and other players like Darren Bravo, who was named among the reserves. Critics have also questioned why players like Sherfane Rutherford and Odean Smith were not selected given how well each performed during the 2021 Hero CPL tournament in St Kitts and Nevis.

However, amidst all of the criticism, Gayle has perhaps come in for the greatest criticism because of the absence of his explosive form that has made him arguably the most successful T20 batsman in the world.

Former West Indies fast bowler Sir Curtly Ambrose is among those questioning Gayle’s selection. However, with the Jamaican already in the squad, Ambrose did not believe Gayle should start for the West Indies when the tournament begins.

“No, he (Gayle) is not an automatic choice for me. The few home series (West Indies) just played, he had no scores of significance, and I have said before that if he did not do well in those home series, he should not go to the World Cup,” Ambrose reasoned while speaking on Mason and Guest talk show in Barbados last week.

“However, he will be at the World Cup, but for me, he is definitely not an automatic choice for starting… If he gets it going on the day, he can be destructive, but he has not done much in the last 18 months or so to really make me think he will set the World Cup alight.”

Responding to Ambrose’s criticisms, Gayle lashed out hard while speaking on The Island Tea Morning Show in St Kitts on Tuesday.

“I can tell you personally and you can let him know that Chris Gayle, the Universe Boss, have no respect for Curtly Ambrose whatsoever,” said Gayle, who accused the fast-bowling great of seeking attention.

“I am speaking about Curtly Ambrose. I am singling out Curtly Ambrose, one of your own. I highly respected him when I came into the West Indies team. When I just joined the team, I looked up to this man. But I am now speaking from my heart. I don’t know what, since he retired, what he had against Chris Gayle. Those negative things he has been saying within the press, I don’t know if he is looking for attention but he is getting the attention. So I am just giving back the attention which he requires and which he needs.”

Gayle continued: “We have won the tournament twice and we will be going for the third title. The team has seen what is happening. It is going to reflect on the team. If the past players continue being negative, I am Chris Gayle Universe Boss is going to be disrespectful, disrespectful verbally in their face. In the media as well. I am not going to take anything from any senior player. Curtly Ambrose pull your socks up, alright? Support for West Indies, ok? Support West Indies, that is the thing.”

The West Indies begin the defence of their title when they play England on October 23 in Dubai.

Sir Curtly Ambrose said while he fully endorses regional players plying their trade across the world to secure their financial futures, he believes those players should equally make themselves available to play for the West Indies.

There have been several instances in the past few years where players have declined invitations to represent the West Indies but then jet off to destinations across the globe to play in T20 tournaments.

The issue was brought into sharp focus recently when several West Indies players declined to tour Bangladesh citing the pandemic and their related safety concerns. However, some of those players later went on to play for T20 franchises in countries that were also experiencing spikes in the number of Covid-19 infections.

During an interview on Talk Sports Live with Michael Bascombe on Saturday, the West Indies bowling icon, said the players need to do a better job of striking a balance between playing franchise cricket and representing the West Indies.

“The game has evolved. There is a lot more cricket being played now and many different T20 tournaments around the globe and there’s lots more money as well, so guys are going to go where the money is and I have no issues with that,” Ambrose said.

“A cricket career can be a very short one, once you have injury it could be all over for you so with guys going around plying their trade with different franchises making money to set themselves up financially, I have no issues with it.

“However, I think it needs to strike a balance somewhere because most of these guys who are playing their trade around the world, it’s because they played for the West Indies team why people saw them and gave them contracts. So for me, you need to find a balance somewhere where you can give back to West Indies cricket. You need to give back to West Indies cricket at some point as opposed to abandoning West Indies cricket.”

This is not the first time that Ambrose has expressed these sentiments.

In December 2020, he publicly criticized Andre Russell, who after declined an invitation to play for the West Indies against New Zealand but later went to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League T20 tournament.

Chief selector Roger Harper told media that Russell declined the West Indies invitation citing the need to clear his mind after being in quarantine lockdown for both the Caribbean Premier League in Trinidad and Tobago where he played for the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise and then, the Indian Premier League in Abu Dhabi where he played for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Ambrose poured cold water on the explanation.

“Because he wants to clear his head for a while to get his mind together, I have no problem with that because cricket is a high-pressure game,” he said.

“So if you want to clear your head for a while, take your mind off cricket I have no issues with that, but if you are going to reject playing for your nation, your country, and then two weeks later you’re playing for somebody else, that to me is a no-no.”

 

 

 

Fast bowling icon Sir Curtly Ambrose believes it will be difficult for the West Indies to unearth players with similar talents to those from the team’s glory days of the 70s and early 90s because the current crop of players has not grasped what cricket means to the people from the region.

Fast bowling great Sir Curtly Ambrose believes some West Indies players who opted out of the tour of Bangladesh could come to regret their decisions not to go because of how well the team is performing there.

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