International cricket should be priority: Clarke to Windies players

Sydney, Dec 20 (IANS) Former Australia captain Michael Clarke believes the West Indies players should place more emphasis on playing international cricket rather than campaigning in the various domestic Twenty20 leagues around the world.

He was speaking amidst the raging debate surrounding the plethora of the West Indies players currently signed with franchises in the ongoing Big Bash League (BBL), even as the Caribbean Test team faced off in a three-Test series against Australia here, reports CMC.

“I think international cricket has to be the priority. T20 tournaments are important and fantastic to watch but I think there’s nothing more special than representing your country,” said Clarke on Saturday, who quit international cricket earlier this year.

Opener Chris Gayle, the team’s most recognisable player, has not played Tests for the West Indies in over a year.

He added: “The players that are here playing in the BBL I think it’s really disappointing they’re not part of the West Indies Test team. There’s a number of players in Australia who would be in their number one picked Test team.”

“I think it’s disappointing for the game and Test match cricket. I’d like to see that changed. That will come down to the ICC and West Indies Cricket Board trying to get together to make it work.”

Fielding a largely inexperienced side, the West Indies were annihilated inside three days by an innings and 212 runs in the opening Test in Hobart.

They will play the second Test in Melbourne starting Boxing Day (December 26) while the likes marquee opener Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree and Lendl Simmons turn out in BBL.

Gayle, averages 42 from 103 Tests but has not played in over a year because of a bad back, Russell says his troublesome knees would not allow him to stand up to the rigours of the longer format while Sammy, Bravo and Simmons have all retired from Test cricket.

Badree, meanwhile, at 34 has played only 12 first class matches and has no Tests or one-day matches under his belt.

Clarke, who played 115 Tests but rarely played T20s throughout his career, said international cricket – especially Tests – remained the standard for all players.

“I’ve always been a believer Test cricket is the pinnacle but we need the best players playing as well,” Clarke said.

“T20 or one-day cricket is great and there’s room for all three formats but it’s called a Test. It’s what you do in the shorter forms over five days.

“If we present an opportunity to another country where their best players can play in both Test cricket and also play in the IPL and BBL I’m confident it can work.”

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