MIAMI: Axed former captain Chris Gayle says the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) forced him to declare himself unavailable for the current series with Pakistan before they would release him to play in the Indian Premier League.
The hard-hitting left-hander was dropped from the West Indies team for the first two games of the upcoming one day series with Pakistan and said he only found out about his omission from the media.
The Jamaican said he asked for an NOC (No Objection Certificate) of permission from the board to play in the IPL after finding out he had been left out of the team.
"The only reason I asked to be made ineligible from the Pakistan tour was to try and continue playing cricket for a living," Gayle said in a statement issued through the West Indies Players Association.
"I was dropped from the West Indies team with no communication whatsoever with no hope of being able to play cricket again for West Indies.
"I found out I was dropped from the team through the media and was then told by the WICB that the only way they would release me to go and play cricket in the IPL was to make myself ineligible for the Pakistan tour. I was forced into that position."
Gayle, who was dropped along with two other experienced batsmen -- Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan -- was a late signing for the Royal Challenger Bangalore in the lucrative IPL having been earlier ignored in the league's player auction.
The 31-year-old has a test average of 41 from 91 tests and was one of several players who turned down central contracts with the WICB last year.
The board initially stated their team selection was based on a desire to bring in young players and later said that no players had been permanently dropped from the team.
On Wednesday the board publicly criticized Gayle, contrasting his behaviour with that of other players who had headed to the IPL but made themselves available for later West Indies fixtures.
"The WICB is most disappointed in the manner in which Gayle has handled the entire situation, especially given the mature and cooperative manner in which two other players who refused contracts, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, made themselves available for selection and agreed to an understanding in the best interest of West Indies cricket," the board stated.
Bravo is available for the ODI series but will miss the tests while he plays in the IPL while Pollard has been allowed to miss the entire series to play in the Indian Twenty20 competition.
Gayle though rejected the suggestion that he did not want to play for West Indies
"I want to play cricket for West Indies. I am a West Indian first and it has been a privilege to play for my country and the West Indies," he said.
The new-look West Indies team beat Pakistan by seven runs in a Twenty 20 game on Thursday and begin a five ODI series on Saturday before facing two tests against the tourists. AGENCIES