8:29 AM ET
It was odd to see a player as massive as Chris Gayle opting out of West Indies duty to play in T20 - and this time even T10 - leagues. Even odder considering the 2019 World Cup is only eight months away. But Jason Holder didn't find this turn of events surprising. The West Indies captain felt the opener was "tapering off" and hoped that in his absence, some of the younger players seized the opportunity.
"Chris is an all-star and I think it's clear he's probably at the back end of his career now. He's probably tapering off a bit. I just saw him play his last List-A game for Jamaica, scoring a hundred against my home team, which is great to see. I enjoy having Chris around. I think he's one of the most entertaining players in the world but his absence gives another player opportunity.
"We have a limited time leading up to the World Cup and it's a good option to see what we have in the tank, in terms of our pool of players, when one door closes another one opens and hopefully it's an opportunity to see another young guy coming through."
West Indies currently have 13 ODIs between now and the end of May when the World Cup begins. Holder was completely confident that Gayle will be part of the squad heading to England and Wales, and brought up the point that the 39-year old had made himself available to play the qualifying tournament in March "really only because he wanted to play the World Cup" and that he would be "welcomed into the team".
"He's definitely going to play the World Cup once his body holds up and he's fit," Holder said. "We'd welcome him into the team. If you go back to the beginning of the year, Chris made himself available for the World Cup Qualifiers. He only did that really because he wants to play the World Cup, he wants to play well for West Indies and he wants to do well.
"When he does that - he has plenty of options around the world to make money - it says something about the individual, says something about what he wants and I really admire that. He was obviously a pivotal part in us qualifying to the World Cup. Guys like him, Marlon Samuels, who really made themselves available in that instance, credit must go to them and not only them, to each and every individual who has come up to represent West Indies.
"They knew the significance and importance of that tournament; we played against teams we probably weren't accustomed to playing against. It was difficult. But as the series went on, we rallied well and we achieved the objective."
ESPNcricinfo understands Courtney Browne's selection panel told Gayle that he would not be picked for the T20 series in India and Bangladesh as they were building a squad keeping in mind the 2020 World T20 in Australia. Gayle is understood to have told the selectors that, in that case, it would be better for him to step aside for the ODI series in both countries to allow the selectors to look at some younger players. Gayle told the selection panel that he would play a few matches for Jamaica in the Super50 followed by the Afghanistan Premier League and the T10 League in the UAE.
According to a CWI official, Gayle was "aware of the risks" because his position could go to any player that performs well on the tours of India and Bangladesh, but the former captain wanted to "manage" his workload to keep himself ready for the World Cup.