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By Neto Baptiste

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Leeward Islands Cricket Board (LICB), Peter Abraham Jr., said the body has written to Cricket West Indies (CWI) seeking clarity on the omission of Nevisian and Leeward Islands Hurricanes batsman Kieran Powell.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Abraham said the LICB is also seeking clarity as to why a request by the sub-regional board to have the player sit the official CWI fitness test went unanswered. 

Nevisian and Leeward Islands Hurricanes batsman Kieran Powell.

“I would have written to CWI in June trying to get a fitness test done for our players because we would have seen what happened when the West Indies team went to England and I had questions about the exclusion of certain Leeward Island players so I would have written to CWI requesting an official fitness test or asked if we could do the fitness test but based on the CWI fitness policy, independent testers must do the test,” he said.

“What I can say in that since the news broke in terms of the selections to Bangladesh, the Leeward Islands Cricket Board has taken the proactive position in writing to the CWI lead selector [Roger Harper] and we continue to dialogue because it is not only Mr. Powell but other players, we feel, are affected by the selections,” he added.

In a recent statement, the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) refuted claims that Powell has not made the West Indies selection fitness standard, pointing out that the player achieved the requirements in June.

Abraham said however, that although Powell did pass an internal fitness test administered by LICB in June, it was not officially sanctioned by CWI.

“That fitness test done in June was an internal fitness test put on by the Leeward Islands Cricket Board to assess the level of fitness our players were at [because] you’d have known that the championship was abruptly finished in April last year and we were scheduled to do the official CWI fitness test the following week after the championship but with the closure of borders that was pushed back. The head coach and myself would have decided that we wanted to emphasize on fitness in the 2020 off season so we conducted a fitness test in June which was an internal fitness test,” the CEO said. 

In February last year, Powell was left out of West Indies’ ODI squad for their tour of Sri Lanka after failing fitness tests. At that time, Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis were also axed after failing to meet the fitness standards.

Abraham said that that although both Hetmyer and Lewis were given opportunities to retake the test, Powell has not been made a similar offer.

“Both Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis were West Indies contracted players so in their contracts it would speak to what happens if you fail a CWI fitness test. I am not privy to the details of their contracts but I know that in the contracts we have for the franchise players, once you fail a fitness test it speaks to the ramifications and what happens after,” he said.

“Currently, Mr Powell was, at the time, was not on neither a CWI contract or Leeward Islands contract so I am not sure if that is the reason why he was treated differently. Our position at the Leeward Islands Cricket Board is that we would have wanted Powell to be retested because we think that Mr. Powell is fit based on our internal assessment that he will pass any CWI sanctioned fitness test,” he added.

Twelve players, including Test captain Jason Holder, declined to take part in the upcoming tour of Bangladesh due to health concerns. The tour is set for January 10 to February 11.