OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM WEST INDIES CRICKETER KIERAN POWELL
Following recent media and public speculation regarding my absence from regional and international cricket, I would like to make known the following:
During the conclusion of the first West Indies vs New Zealand Test match in Jamaica in June of last year (2014), I requested a meeting with West Indies Team Manager Richie Richardson and the then-Coach, Otis Gibson, in the Team Room we had been allocated at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
At this meeting I advised them that I would be needing to take a break from international cricket to deal with a personal issue. The conversation concluded with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson conveying their understanding and stating that they hoped that I would return to the West Indies squad as soon as I was available to do so. I had then relayed a detailed account of that same conversation, in writing, to my own Management, so as to have made them aware of my actions.
Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson went onto assure me that their next steps would include advising West Indies Board officials, including West Indies Director of Cricket, Richard Pybus, Head of Cricket Operations, Roland Holder and the West Indies Selection Panel at the time, that I had made myself unavailable and that they would be advising the Team Media Manager to put out a Press Release to announce my forthcoming absence from the team.
I then went back to my hotel room and received a phone call around 20-30 minutes later from the then-Chairman of Selectors, Clyde Butts, requesting that I come to his room. I duly did so and Mr. Butts proceeded to advise me during our meeting, that he had been informed of my decision and wished me the best of luck but hoped that I resolved my personal issues quickly so that I could re-join the team as soon as possible. I had built a very good rapport with Mr. Butts over the years and his support meant a lot to me. I left his room feeling that my situation at the time was made clear to the primary parties within the immediate Team Management structure.
On Friday the 13th of June, 2014, the day after I had advised the Team Manager and Coach of my unavailability, I was asked to complete a Performance Review by Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson, which took place in Mr. Richardson’s room that morning.
Following the above meetings, I was not given any further steps nor indications that anyone else would be attempting to contact me. I assumed, even if anyone did wish to contact me, that there were several modes available for them to contact me by, including via my Manager, who also represents Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin and Richie Richardson; or via my father, who, himself, is a former West Indies Cricket Board Director and is a close associate of several Board officials, including West Indies Cricket Board President, Dave Cameron.
The next actions I saw in relation to my request for leave of absence from the team, was when a Media Release from the West Indies Cricket Board stated that myself and Marlon Samuels had been “axed,” despite the fact that I had asked for time off for a personal reason days before any such Release had gone to press.
The next contact I received from anyone within the West Indies Management structure, thereafter, was from Mr. Gibson in the first week of July, to check on my well-being. He then contacted me again in the last week of July – again, to check on my well-being. No mention of my return to cricket was discussed in either phone call. Mr. Richardson had also contacted my father and my Manager on several occasions regarding me.
Furthermore, Mr. Cameron, had inquired from my father about my return to international cricket, on more than one occasion, particularly during the period of the 2014 Caribbean Premier League. Mr. Cameron had gone so far as to ask my father to request that I contact him, which I did immediately.
During my initial conversation with Mr. Cameron, he stated that he had not been made aware by anyone in the Board or Team Management, of the circumstances surrounding my leave of absence from the West Indies team. This obviously bewildered me as I knew that not only had I had a meeting with the Manager and the then-Coach of the West Indies team on the 12th of June, but I had also had a chat with the Chairman of Selectors that same evening, following the announcement of my decision.
Mr. Cameron went onto agree that the Board had a duty of care towards me as a player and that he did not feel due process had been followed. During my conversation with Mr. Cameron, I made it clear that not only had I had a meeting with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson on the 12th of June outlining my circumstances and my request for leave of absence, but that I had also seemingly received their support on the matter at the time.
Mr. Cameron then went onto re-iterate that he felt I remained a strong contender for the role of future Captain of the West Indies team; a statement which he had made in public and in the media, and a statement which I was humbled by.
Given the mis-communication and mis-management following my meeting with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson, I ensured that my Management was in the room when I had the (phone) conversation with Mr Cameron, on this occasion.
By this time, because I was frequently being inquired about and contacted by Board officials and Team Management, I revisited my position and made the decision to make myself available for the West Indies’ tour of India in September.
I spoke with current Coach, Stuart Williams, on the 11th of September regarding returning to the international team. The conversation was positive and Mr Williams asked that I take the relevant measures to ensure my re-admission into the team. I then contacted the now Chairman of Selectors, Mr. Clive Lloyd, as well as Mr. Cameron and Mr. Pybus.
During my conversation with Mr. Cameron, I communicated my wishes to make myself available for international cricketing duties again. This time there was an awkward hesitancy throughout the conversation – less than four weeks after our initial conversation where he had been extremely encouraging about my return to international duty. He stated during our conversation that I had not been practicing, which was assumed on his part. He then asked me to contact Mr. Pybus, which I immediately did.
During my conversation with Mr. Pybus, he stated that he had made numerous attempts to contact me but had been unsuccessful. I responded that various people from both the Board and Team Management, had by then, contacted me several times, including the President of the Board and the Coaches and Manager of the West Indies team, therefore, I was baffled as to why Mr. Pybus would have been unable to contact me. Furthermore, he claimed that I had simply “walked off the job” when this was utterly untrue. I had explicitly made my unavailability known to both the Team Manager and the then-Coach. In fact, the Media Release put out by the West Indies Cricket Board announcing the team for the second Test against New Zealand back in June 2014, went so far as to say that I had been “axed“, when I had already made myself unavailable.
Mr. Pybus insisted that I write a letter to him outlining my plans to return to cricket. He also pressed me to divulge details of my personal issue which I did not wish to discuss. He then went onto imply, in my opinion, that my future position in the squad would be compromised if I was not willing to disclose this information, which I felt was coercive, intrusive and unjust. He went onto suggest that I return to grass-roots level cricket, in my bid to make a comeback. In my mind, I immediately compared this to other situations in the recent past, in which senior players in the West Indies team, had not been expected to follow same protocol and I wondered: why me?
Following this conversation, I felt confused and flabbergasted as I had been contacted numerous times by Board officials and Team Management regarding my return to international cricket. Having made myself available, I felt I was now being made an example of.
On the 26th and 27th of September, I was sent several messages requesting that I contact West Indies selector Courtney Browne as a matter of extreme urgency. I spoke with Mr Browne who conferenced called in Chairman of Selectors, Mr. Lloyd. The reason for the call, they advised, was simply to inform me that they had not forgotten me. Mr. Lloyd went onto say that he felt that I was a future leader for the West Indies team. The call ended shortly after this. The episode left me astonished and befuddled as it seemed completely nonsensical that senior officials would contact me so vehemently and with such urgency, simply to advise me that they had not forgotten me.
However, determined to seal my position back in the West Indies squad, I called both selectors back separately and advised them both of my immediate availability. I specifically asked whether there was a possibility of being selected for the West Indies’ tour of India. I was not provided with a firm answer by the selectors, but I persisted and asked whether I may be considered for the West Indies A team tour of Sri Lanka, so as to prove my match fitness, because there was no domestic cricket on in the Caribbean region at the time. Again, I was not provided with a firm answer. Feeling deflated and confused by several months of roller coaster events, I made a firm decision to take a step away from the game in its entirety, to reflect and refresh.
There have been numerous reports in the media and in the public domain about my absence from the game of cricket, ranging from alleged struggles with “acute fatigue syndrome” to apparently being “in exile.” My Management has also been unfairly condemned for not speaking out about my absence from cricket. I would like to categorically, state on record that I am doing well and remain focused but that I am taking time away from the game. While I appreciate the support and loyalty I have received from people around the world, I would like to use this opportunity to ask that the media and the public respect my right to privacy and I look forward to returning to international cricket and to the game I love so dearly, in the near future.