Chris Gayle last night described the circumstances of his friend and rival Kevin Pietersen’s enforced international retirement as “disrespectful”.
After a lengthy spell out on the sidelines with injury Gayle will be in action, after injury, against England in tomorrow’s opening Twenty20 international at the Kensington Oval.
The England and Wales Cricket Board axed 33-year-old Pietersen from all future plans last month, in the aftermath of their Ashes drubbing in Australia.
And West Indies’ destructive opening batsman Gayle regrets that England’s record runscorer will not be in international opposition.
He said: “I’m disappointed by the manner he (had to) bow out of international cricket. It’s disrespectful.
“I don’t know what happened behind closed doors... but for such a big player to actually go out like that, who has made such a big impact around the world, it’s really sad.
“It’s disrespectful, the way he had to go.”
Pietersen must come to terms with a life in the international wilderness, albeit with the riches and profile still available to him as a Twenty20 star at the Indian Premier League and elsewhere.
He spent much of Thursday evening, for example, sending wistful tweets about the possibility of phone calls coming his way – without specifiying selectors who are no longer able to pick him – after Joe Root had to leave England’s Caribbean tour with a broken thumb.
Gayle picked up a similar theme, when he said with a smile: “I’m sure Pietersen is playing on Sunday.
“He’s going to replace Joe Root.
“He’s just waiting on a phone call. I hope the ECB will pick up the phone and give KP a call... and he’ll be here on Sunday playing in this game.
“If not, he’ll definitely be missed. I’ll be missing him personally, because he’s an easy wicket for me!”
Still attempting the lighter touch, he added: “If I bowl to KP, I get him out easily, so I’m definitely going to miss him.
“I’m sure the fans are going to miss him as well, so I’ll try to put on a display to entertain them.”
Pietersen’s fractured relationship with his employers had been in jeopardy more than once before, especially in his summer of discontent in 2012.
Gayle himself has had his own contract wrangles at times with the West Indies Cricket Board.
“It has been difficult for KP,” he said.
“From my point of view, I sat out for a year – and then things worked out and we’re all getting along well.
“He’s been so good in international cricket I’m sure he wants to represent his country.
“He has said he wants more than 10,000 Test runs, and to cut it like this is sad for him.
“(I’ve just sent him) a few text messages to say it is sad to see him go out in this way.”
The chance to watch England in action on television against West Indies in the tourists’ one-day international series in Antigua was not enough, without Pietersen, to get Gayle out of bed early while he was recovering from his hip injury.
“Not really... I’m a late sleeper,” he said. “I watched bits and pieces.”
England’s Chris Jordan, meanwhile, still recalls watching from the stands at the Kensington Oval, playing on the outfield and then – as a teenager – taking part in the first match at the refurbished ground.
Barbados-born Jordan is hoping to return to England’s team tomorrow to face his native country.
If he does, the 25-year-old pace bowler will inevitably be revisiting many old memories as well as hoping to create some new ones – in front of long-standing well-wishers.
He knows that perhaps not everyone in a partisan crowd – there are a few English supporters in town too, however – will be right behind him.
But friends and family very much come first for Jordan, who travelled to England as a teenager after former England batsman Bill Athey spotted his talent on a reconnaissance trip to identify a scholarship student at Dulwich College.
From there, Jordan joined Surrey then Sussex before England came calling.
Asked if he will mind the nature of the crowd reaction if he takes West Indies wickets, or smacks a few late runs this weekend, he said: “It’s pretty irrelevant really to be honest.
“As long as my friends and my family are backing me, that’s honestly all that matters.”
It was with family and friends that he had his early cricket experiences at this very venue – back in the days when all were supporting Barbados, or the West Indies.
“I used to sit down in the old press box and I used to go on the field at lunchtimes and have little games,” he said. “I really do remember it.”
Of the prospect of playing for England against his native country so close to where he was born, Jordan said: “(I’m) very proud actually,”
“Obviously I grew up here... but I went to England and learned most of my trade there.
“I’m more than happy with the decision I’ve made.”