Former West Indies captain Carl Hooper has urged cricket authorities in the Caribbean to urgently address the issue of central contracts if it is to truly reap the benefits of the resurgence that Darren Sammy’s men have sparked by winning the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Hooper, who played more than 100 tests and was part of the West Indies' last golden age 25 years ago, believes top players like Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine who are currently not contracted will always be tempted by lucrative offers from the Indian Premier League (IPL), unless the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) can figure out a solution to stave off this “threat”.
“The spectators want to see the best players. If I looked up and saw no Gayle or key players named to play I would just say forget about it, stay home,” Hooper told The Advertiser.
“They have to figure out a way to get our key players contracted.”
The World T20 in Sri Lanka saw the full-force of the West Indian side, something which was missing in the last couple of Test series Sammy’s men have played in.
Superstar opener Gayle, spin wizard Sunil Narine and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo were all unavailable for the Tests against Australia in April and England in May/June due to IPL duties.
The West Indies lost both the series with Narine declining to debut earlier in favour of an inaugural $700,000 2012 season with Kolkata Knight-Riders frachise.
The situation could have been averted if the Board had realised what was at stake, according to Hooper.
“If Narine has a central contract that would mean he would have to play for the West Indies,” Hooper added.
“One of the biggest threats facing cricket is the IPL.”
Hooper believed the Windies finally had the talent to become a force on the world stage after two decades of gloom, provided the big stars were available to ride with the rookies.
“We want to have our best cricketers playing each and every time we take the park. If you have a solid base in Test cricket you can adjust your game to suit any other format.”