St. John's, Antigua: Cricketing legend Vivian Richards has lambasted the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) for its inept handling of the dispute with former captain Chris Gayle.
He said he did not agree with everything Gayle did, but found it difficult to understand how the board could take such a hard line when the regional governing body has not lived up to its responsibilities as the guardian of the game.
"I would like to believe what the WICB is basically saying is Chris Gayle has to apologise for what he did so that he can be back in the West Indies side. I just think that's a little far-fetched," he told the Antigua Observer newspaper.
"Let me also take this opportunity to say that I am not in Chris Gayle's corner (with) most decisions he makes, but I think that this whole issue is potent enough and I feel he needs some support."
Gayle has not played for West Indies since the 2011 World Cup, after roundly criticising the WICB in an interview with a Jamaican radio station. Gayle has remained sidelined after several meetings and the WICB has demanded an apology from the estranged opener, which he has refused.
Richards felt the WICB had no moral ground for it to make such a heavy demand on Gayle.
"It is ludicrous for the WICB to ask Gayle to apologise when they know that something was wrong and maybe these are some of the issues Gayle was trying to address," said Richards.
"He may or may not apologise, that's his call, but how can it ask so much from Chris when they have given so little?"
Richards said he could not advise Gayle what route he should take, but it was clear that he wanted to play for West Indies - and that he could make a difference to the fortunes of the side.
"I guess he clearly wants to be in the West Indies team," he said.
Gayle is in Australia now, preparing for the Big Bash League Twenty20, where he will play for the Sydney Thunder.