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While noting that he recognised that Gayle was required to make a decision, Samuels said he was not concerned at the time because he thought the double wicket tournament had the full sanction of the West Indies Cricket Board.
And Wright said much the same thing.
"I thought more or less he (Gayle) was playing under the umbrella of the West Indies ... both (Carl) Hooper and himself were representing the West Indies ... It seems that there was no clear decision or understanding of the issue ..." said Wright.
The Jamaica manager and captain were speaking to the Observer shortly after arriving with the Jamaica team from their Carib Beer Challenge final loss to Barbados on Sunday. Gayle, a 23-year-old left-handed opener, was scheduled to arrive from St Lucia late yesterday.
Gayle's decision to play in the US$175 000 double wicket tournament as Hooper's partner instead of playing for Jamaica in the Carib Beer final, led to an investigation by the WICB of his eligibility to represent the West Indies in the upcoming Cable and Wireless Series against Australia, given the terms of a controversial eligibility rule. Gayle has been controversially left out of the West Indies team for the first Test in Guyana starting tomorrow, although the WICB said in a release that for the time being, at least, he should be considered eligible.
Said Samuels of the Gayle issue: "I didn't know what the situation entailed. I knew it (the double wicket partnership of Hooper and Gayle) was a West Indies team. I thought it was sanctioned by the Board .... I thought it was under the auspices of West Indies so I didn't go in detail as to how eligible he was or what the eligibility (rule) was. I didn't go into that. I just knew that there was a choice to be made and the choice would have been his whether he wanted to play in the finals or go to St Lucia, having signed a contract. It's only after that, that I realised that things could have been different," he said.
Samuels suggested that at the time no one gave any thought to the eligibility rule. "I think he (Gayle) didn't understand it. I think he spoke to several people, but I don't know to what depth ... but I think he didn't understand it. Also, if the WI board knew of this they could have intervened, so you can't just blame Chris alone ..."
The Jamaica captain noted that chairman of selectors for West Indies, Sir Vivian Richards, was in Guyana when news broke that Gayle would miss the final. "He (Richards) must have heard about it. Hooper was there, Hooper could also have said something about it, if he had known ... somebody could have said 'hey wrong choice, bad move' or whatever ... so I believe that probably all of us took it for granted because it (the double wicket team) was West Indies ...."
Samuels responded with an emphatic denial to criticism that Gayle showed a lack of commitment by opting for the double wicket tournament. "Chris Gayle? No. Not a Chris Gayle, definitely not a Chris Gayle, I wouldn't question his commitment," said the Jamaica captain. "Chris Gayle always wants to play for Jamaica, always willing and able, gives his best at all times ...," he added.
He stressed that Gayle played a vital role as a bowler on the last day of the semifinal against Guyana to ensure that Jamaica got first innings advantage and reached the final.
Gayle bowled 37 overs of off spin, the majority in a single spell as Jamaica struggled to contain a rampaging Hooper (130 not out) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (109). Gayle ended with 2-67, including the wicket of talented young batsman, Narsingh Deonarine (55).
Jamaica having made a first innings 486-7 declared, bowled out Guyana for 462.
"His (Gayle's) bowling in Guyana basically took us to the final and we (dedicated) the final to him. So to hear the whole controversy that is happening now is a little bit hard ...," said Samuels.
"I stood by Chris Gayle and I still stand by him," the Jamaica captain said. (Jamaica Observer)