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By Ravi Madholall
Former Guyana and West Indies middle-order batsman Keith Semple revealed that “it is a huge disappointment” West Indies will be not be participating at the International Cricket Council (ICC) limited-over Champions trophy.

Keith Semple

The actions are set to bowl off on Thursday when host-nation England tackling Bangladesh at Lords in Group A and West Indies, despite a phenomenal reputation in the abbreviated version, their absence is quite disheartening and embarrassing.

“Yes, it [is] very disappointing that West Indies will not be participating in the upcoming ICC Champions trophy given our very rich cricketing history and previous winners of this tournament as well as two world cups,” the right-handed cricketer declared.

Quizzed on how much this will dent the confidence of the Caribbean team in the future particularly in this format, Semple stated it is very sad.

“Apart from T20 cricket, I think our confidence is quite low at the moment in the other formats of the game considering the current state of the cricket in the Caribbean and players, administration and supporters have had enough time to come to grips with missing out. I’m not sure how much more our confidence can be dented,” Semple, who appeared in seven one-day internationals, responded.

He continued to say that there are a number of obvious reasons for the West Indians missing out on such a gigantic one-day tournament that has the traditionally power-house world cricket teams featuring.

“Yes, a number of reasons can be attributed to the WI missing out on a spot at the upcoming ICC Champions trophy. The obvious one being consistently poor performances, which have led to a low ODI ranking and thus missing out on qualification. The poor performances are down to various reasons including our best players not being available or not selected, disputes between players and board, not having a settled team and poor domestic competitions not preparing players properly for international cricket,” Semple, who represented Guyana in 56 first-class games, disclosed from his home in Toronto.

Since the introduction of the ICC Champions Trophy in 1998, West Indies were able to lift the cup in 2004 under one of the game’s greatest batsmen Brian Lara also in England, but they have not been able to make another impression onwards.

“Winning this trophy in 2004 was a great achievement and should have been good for WI cricket. If I’m not mistaken, we still had a lot of very experienced players in that team. Unfortunately we were not able to sustain that success and WI cricket has been in steady decline since then. The next challenge will be to try and qualify for the upcoming world cup, which at the moment looks like we’ll not be able to do automatically due to recent results. I hope the board and players can get their act together and qualify because missing out on that would be another major blow to WI cricket,” related Semple, an ex-Demerara Cricket Club player.

West Indies still has the distinction of winning the first two ICC World Cup titles in 1975 and 1979 while they would have also lifted the T20 trophy on two occasions after it was inaugurated in 2007.

Meanwhile, this year’s ICC Champions trophy will see the final being played on June 18. The tournament consists of two Groups, A and B. defending champions Australia along with the hometeam, Bangladesh and New Zealand are in Group A while Group B is made up of India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.