St John's (Antigua and Barbuda), Jan 28: West Indies Cricket World Cup chances suffered a major blow with mystery spinner Sunil Narine withdrawing from the squad for the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
According to a release from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) yesterday, Narine "requires more time to be able to confidently bowl for a sustained period in international cricket with his new action".
While the Trinidadian mystery spinner has not been under any cloud of official sanction from the International Cricket Council, his action was deemed on two occasions during the Indian Champions League T20 tournament last September to be illegal.
It was ruled to be in violation of the 15-degree allowance of straightening of the bowling arm and he was banned from appearing for his franchise, the Kolkata Knight Riders, in the final.
Narine declined an offer from the WICB to assist with remedial work to his action and pursued the corrective process on his own. His first competitive foray since the ICL experience was the Nagico Super50 regional 50-over tournament in Trinidad and Tobago which concluded on Sunday.
The slow bowler returned astonishing figures of six for nine off eight overs to ensure a comprehensive victory for the hosts over Guyana in the final at the Queen's Park Oval. He was also the most successful bowler in the tournament with 12 wickets.
Narine not satisfied with his rehabilitation
Despite these encouraging numbers, Narine was not entirely satisfied with his rehabilitation.
"Going to the World Cup is a little too much, too soon and, after consulting the WICB, for both West Indies and my sake we have decided to delay my return to international cricket until I am 100 percent confident in all that I do," he stated in the WICB release.
His surprise pull-out of the squad has been supported by the Board "as to risk exposure to the intensity of the Cricket World Cup would be both unfair to him and the West Indies squad".
Despite this official explanation, endorsed by the player himself, there is widespread speculation that his action is in some way related to the omission of fellow Trinidadians Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the One-Day International squads for both the current series in South Africa and the World Cup.
Bravo was the captain and Pollard a member of the West Indies squad that pulled out of the tour of India last October in a dispute over money. Bravo was subsequently replaced as captain by 23-year-old Jason Holder and has lost his place in the team altogether.
West Indies play their first match of the World Cup against Ireland on February 16 at Nelson in New Zealand. A replacement for Narine is expected to be named by the WICB shortly.