St John’s, Antigua — Amid Leeward Islands cricket team’s training in St Kitts, team coach and former national cricketer Reginald Benjamin still laments the absence of Devon “Booby” Thomas.
Benjamin believes the former West Indies wicket-keeper, who asked to be removed as a contracted Leeward Islands player, fell victim to listening to the wrong people.
Speaking on OBSERVER media’s Good Morning Jo-Jo yesterday, the coach said, “He (Thomas) was given illadvice. I’m not gonna blame him for that, but sometimes you have to be careful of the friends you choose and the advice you get from people that don’t really know how the system works.”
This comes following Thomas’ decision in June to be removed from the Leeward Islands team’s list of contracted players ahead of the 2015 West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional Cricket League (PCL); opting instead to take the “pay-by-play” route.
This decision, according to Benjamin, is unwise, with contracts providing more stability and guarantees to players.
However, Benjamin hinted at hopes Thomas would return into the fold, saying, “He’s always going to be within my radar. I spoke to him often; he’s a player of quality calibre.”
The coach continued, “You don’t want him to lose faith or hope in the system.”
As it stands, four Antiguans are contracted by the Leewards team: Gavin Tonge, Rahkeem Cornwall, Orlando Peters, and Alzarri Joseph.
According to Benjamin, Thomas is, to date, the only player to reject a retainer contract.
At the time of the player’s decision, Benjamin had said, “I so wanted Devon to be a part of us. I know that players have a lot of grief going with the Board in the past, so I promised all the players I’ll resolve their issues and he had an administrative issue. I told him I was going to resolve it.”
Two months on, with Benjamin believing all issues had been sorted, the team trains on; but still with no Thomas in sight.