St John's:Chris Gayle was on Monday dumped from West Indies captaincy and replaced by all-rounder Darren Sammy in a shake-up aimed at rebuilding the side which has been on decline for some years.
The West Indies Cricket Board announced the decision to sack Gayle, who has been skipper since 2007, while naming the squad for the three-match Test tour of Sri Lanka next month.
Sammy, though, has not been a regular member of the Test side having played just eight matches after making his debut in June 2007.
Gayle, who recently refused new central contracts with the WICB last month along with Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, is still in the squad as a batsman.
Gayle, Bravo and Pollard had refused central contracts which stipulated that they must make themselves available for the West Indies team at all times.
Bravo was also demoted from vice-captaincy with Brendan Nash taking over the job for the Test series in Sri Lanka, though he is still in the squad.
The sacking of Gayle, who led West Indies to three wins in 20 Tests as captain, and naming of Sammy and Nash into positions of responsibility was apparently done as WICB wanted stability in leadership from players whose availability was not in question.
WICB chief executive Ernest Hilaire thanked Gayle for leading West Indies "during a challenging period" of the game in the country.
"Chris Gayle, the former captain, led the West Indies during a challenging period and the board thanks him for stepping up then but it is now time to pass the mantle on as the West Indies rebuilds," said Hilaire.
West Indies are seventh in the Test rankings and eighth in the world in the one-day format and the WICB is hoping 26-year-old Sammy can inspire an improvement.
"We are at the dawn of a new era in West Indies cricket and the selection committee has entrusted the challenging job of captaincy to Darren Sammy because it is believed that he has demonstrated the attributes of a leader of this diverse group of men," said selection committee chairman Clyde Butts.
Sammy is excited at being handed the captaincy and said he was looking forward to the challenge despite several experienced men, including the now uncontracted Denesh Ramdin, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jerome Taylor, are missing from Sri Lanka-bound Test squad. Veteran batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul though is in the squad.
"Being appointed West Indies captain is an honour which I will treat with the highest regard and dignity. I believe my captaincy of the Windward Islands will stand me in good stead as West Indies captain as we work on building a team for the future," Sammy said.
"I have always given my all when I prepare and play for the West Indies and nothing will change now. I know this will be a difficult challenge and I will take the torch from Chris and hold it high as we forge ahead. I expect to have the full support of the squad."