The West Indies must cope with the loss of their best batsman when they take on Sri Lanka and hosts Zimbabwe in a triangular one-day series after Darren Bravo was sent home for remarks made on Twitter.
Bravo was axed from the West Indian squad on Saturday due to “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour, which is contrary to his contractual obligations,” the West Indies Cricket Board said.
The batsman had responded to comments by WICB president Dave Cameron, who told a radio station that Bravo had been offered only a Grade C central contract due to his poor form in recent times.
“You hav been failing 4 d last 4yrs. Y don’t u resign and FYI I’ve neva been given an A contract. Big idiot @davec51,” Bravo tweeted in reply on Friday.
The WICB release stated that a clause in players’ contracts stipulated no public comments could be made that brought the organisation into disrepute.
As a result Bravo, who was played 94 ODIs, has been replaced in the squad by fellow batsman Jason Mohammed, who has played just two ODIs.
There was a further blow with spinner Sunil Narine returning home due to personal reasons. He was replaced by legspinner Devendra Bishoo.
The West Indians were already without star players such as batsman Chris Gayle and allrounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, who remain at odds with the WICB.
“It’s obviously a big impact when you lose senior guys with experience who bring pedigree, but we’re in a situation where we have to cope with what we have,” West Indies captain Jason Holder said on Sunday.
“We need to gel together as quickly as possible and get everyone coming into the tournament peaking at the right time.”
The first game of the tournament takes place on Monday, when Zimbabwe will take on Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club.
West Indies will play Sri Lanka at the same venue on Wednesday, before the series shifts to Bulawayo.
Sri Lanka will also be missing key players after Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal failed to overcome injuries that kept them out of the recently concluded Test series against Zimbabwe, giving the hosts confidence that they can cause some upsets.
“I think we’re a better one-day unit than Test side — it’s the format that we’re more comfortable in,” said Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.
“We play a lot more white-ball cricket than red-ball, so our bowlers are accustomed to bowling in those conditions and we also have Tinashe Panyangara back fit, which brings a lot of experience back into our seam attack.”
Sri Lanka won both Tests by over 200 runs, and have retained seven of their 11 Test starters in their one-day squad, with batsman Upul Tharanga named captain for the first time in Mathews’ absence.
“We learnt a lot with regards to what the conditions are like here and how the wickets play. It’s fairly different to Sri Lanka,” Tharanga said on Sunday.
“Most of the guys from the Test team are in the one-day side as well so that gives us a very good chance.”