The raging 'Club versus Country' debate today again came to the forefront as ace spinner Sunil Narine faces a possible exclusion from the Test team, if he plays the IPL final for Kolkata Knight Riders thereby failing to meet the deadline joining the West Indies camp latest by June 1.
The West Indies are scheduled to play their first Test against New Zealand at Kingston in Jamaica from June 8.
Keeping in mind players like Sunil Narine and Chris Gayle, who are integral part of their respective IPL franchises, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) had extended the deadline of joining national camp from May 22 to June 1.
With Narine playing a vital role in KKR's triumphant journey to the final scheduled on June 1, the IPL franchise will not let the 'Mystery Spinner' leave before summit "It is his decision," WICB's CEO Michael Muirhead told ESPN Cricinfo.
"The cut-off date for joining the camp was moved forward from May 22 to June 1 specifically to allow those players involved in the IPL the opportunity for more matches. Anyone who is in breach won't be considered for selection," Muirhead made WICB's position clear on the issue.
However Narine would remain in the chosen squad of 15 and be eligible for playing in the remainder of the series.
KKR CEO Venky Mysore, on his part, requested a bit of flexibility on the part of WICB which will enable Narine to play the IPL final.
"This is in no way an act of defiance by Sunil," Mysore was quoted as saying by the website.
"He is seeking the board's flexibility for a couple of days leeway so that he can turn out for Knight Riders on Sunday. He has told us that he came to do a job and wants to see it through to its conclusion. He also wants to represent West Indies against New Zealand. You can understand the quandary that he is in," Mysore added.
The WICB has now taken its position following its acceptance of the "West Indies First" policy proposed by director of cricket, Richard Pybus, last March.
This lists the principle of the "prioritisation of Test cricket as the pinnacle of West Indies cricket and its protection through priority team selection and strategic scheduling".
Narine is one of six players with WICB Grade A contracts for 2014, each worth US$120,000; Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels are the others.
"For West Indies cricket to thrive and to grow, they (the players) have to make themselves available," Muirhead said at the time. "At the same time, we don't want to limit the amount or prevent their opportunities to earn."
"We are not victimizing him (Narine) in any way," Muirhead stated. "Like all the players, he was aware of the stipulation under the NOC (No Objection Clause) well in advance."
Mysore on his part said that they are ready to put Narine on the first available flight after the final and he would be in Jamaica, latest by June 3.
"He has been a vital cog in our team since he joined us in 2012," Mysore said. "He is the leading wicket-taker in IPL 2014 with 20 wickets but, just as importantly, he has been a tremendous team-man."
The NOC released West Indies players for the IPL with the stipulation that they would be available no later than one week before a Test series. The camp, currently held in Barbados, wraps up on June 3. It is, according to Muirhead, the opportunity for "meaningful practice and developing the team ethic".
As per reports, Narine has also been in touch with former West Indies opener Wavell Hinds, who is the president and chief executive of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA).
Muirhead also added that when the NOC was signed there were no scheduled matches or tours in 2014 during the period of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) or the Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL final has thrown a spanner into the works.
Muirhead said Narine and Gayle, who travelled to Germany from his IPL stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore for treatment on his back injury, had advised the WICB on June 24 that they would be back by June 1.
That changed for Narine in the past two weeks as KKR, at one point seemingly out of contention, reeled off eight consecutive victories to qualify for the final.
The spinning options for West Indies in the first Test are left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn and off-spinner Shane Shillingford, who is making a comeback after having taken corrective measures for his suspect action.