Australia optimistic of hosting full-strength Windies
Cricket Australia (CA) is confident West Indies will resolve their ongoing contract dispute with their board and send a full-strength Test team to the country this November. James Sutherland, CA's chief executive, felt it was too early to have contingency plans in place - which could mean replacing a depleted West Indies with another team - as there's still sufficient time for a resolution.
''We have started to think about these sorts of things but again it is too early to be too definitive about how that all might unfold,'' Sutherland told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''The messages coming through from ICC and indirectly at this stage from West Indies, we're really hopeful things will be sorted and any sort of contingencies we might have started to think about won't be relevant.
''There are definitely concerns because at the moment the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and their players haven't sorted out their issues, and therefore it would appear if all things remain the same that we won't have a West Indies team of the strength we might hope for. Yes, it's a concern, but it's also a couple of months away and in my experience these sorts of industrial disputes can be fixed very, very quickly. I would hope both parties can, in the forseeable future, see eye to eye.''
Leading West Indian players - including the captain Chris Gayle - fell out with the board over contracts just before the home series against Bangladesh. Following a mass pull-out, a depleted team was beaten soundly in the Tests and ODIs and the same under-strength side will fly to South Africa for the Champions Trophy this month. However, senior players like Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Jerome Taylor have made themselves available for the Australian tour but a WICB director said last month that only those who participate in the regional one-day tournament in October will be considered for national selection.
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe don't have international commitments in November-December, should Australia consider for backup. Sutherland said he will discuss the issue with the WICB at an ICC meeting in South Africa this month.
Jimmy Adams, the former West Indies captain and now secretary of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), was confident the players will show up for the regional tournament. However, he added that it was still difficult to predict when the impasse would end. Earlier this month, peace talks between WICB and WIPA failed and political leaders in the Caribbean were called upon to settle the crisis.
''I would assume there are a lot of people concerned in Australia as to what sort of team will turn up in November and, like yourselves, we are also concerned and we would like to get this thing settled sooner rather than later,'' Adams said.
''A lot of issues have come from that, and we are hoping one day the people who administer the game do it in a truly professional manner, and one that is in keeping with best practices around the world. We're not quite there yet. Understatement of the year.''