Sutherland 'optimistic' of West Indies' best for Tests
Australian expectations of a full-strength West Indies team for the three-Test contest next month continue to improve even though the region's top players and board remain in dispute. Floyd Reifer, the 37-year-old, has been leading a patched-up outfit that suffered the humiliation of being beaten by Bangladesh in a Test series while it also missed its leading men at the Champions Trophy.
Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies allrounder, has said the striking players will be back in time for the Australia series, which starts in Brisbane on November 26, and James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, is beginning to relax. Sutherland said he was increasingly confident the situation would be resolved following talks with senior figures in the West Indies board and its players' association.
"Not having the best West Indians playing for West Indies damages West Indies cricket and world cricket, and we're all very hopeful they resolve their issues and see their best players playing against our best players," he said. "The issue is between their board and their players' association, but I am certainly more optimistic than I have been in previous months."
Cricket Australia is keen for the strongest possible outfit to arrive because the 2009-10 season is a quiet one following three A-list summers when India, England and South Africa toured. West Indies will be joined by Pakistan over the next four months and the home officials were considering their options if an inferior squad was picked in the Caribbean.
"We've had a look at all sorts of different contingencies that we might be able to roll out in that event, but really when you look at it, we're in the West Indies board's and players' association's hands," Sutherland said. "They are under no illusions as to our eagerness to see their best team here."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo