By Neto Baptiste
Coach of the PIC Liberta Blackhawks and former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, believes that all-rounder, Karima Gore, should be allowed to represent the twin-island state despite his status as a contracted player with the USA team.
Benjamin is challenging claims by the cricket association’s chief selector, Samuel Spencer, that Gore was omitted from the senior national team for the LICB 50 Overs tournament, set to start here next month, because of his contract with the USA team.
“At the end of the day it is not a paid tournament where you are going to be in conflict with your contract, it is an amateur contract and there is no pay in it so there is no conflict with the contract, it is Antigua and Barbuda he is playing for. If you say you want the best team and if somebody is not good enough to get into the team in front of Karima Gore then they are just not good enough,” he said.
On Thursday, Spencer said Gore was left out of the squad following consultations with the player. The chief selector said the decision was taken to add another player they believe could have an opportunity to impress Leeward Islands selectors during the tournament which runs from October 17-24.
Benjamin, however, questions the logic behind the reason given, adding that having a professional contract does not take away one’s right to play for country.
“They knew Karima had a contract; all of us knew Karima had a contract before and they said once he was available that he would play. The thing about it is that, if you knew you were not going to select him from the onset then you should have said that. But you call him to practice and then at the last minute you said to him, you are going to give somebody a chance because he is playing for America,” he said.
The former national and Leeward Islands player went on to reveal that Gore could have taken up other opportunities to play cricket elsewhere.
“As a matter of a fact, somebody in Barbados had wanted him to come and play some club cricket and he [Karima] spoke to me about that but he wanted to play for Antigua. So I told him that if he wanted to play for Antigua, then tell them [Barbados club] that you are playing for Antigua — and so that has gone out the window as well. If you had said to him earlier then he would have gone to Barbados to play club cricket,” Benjamin said. The Leeward Islands Cricket Board 50 Overs Tournament will be hosted across three venues with matches at Mack Pond in All Saints, Pigotts playing field and in Bethesda.