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April 4, 2007
West Indies have again come under attack from former players, this time for allowing squad members to return to their home islands in between matches. Richie Richardson said it was "unbelievable" and the team had let its fans down, and Joel Garner said dispersing the players was "a bunch of nonsense".
The tournament hosts' last game was against Sri Lanka in Guyana on Sunday and they do not play again until next Tuesday, when they face South Africa in Grenada. Because of the eight-day break, the players were given the option of having two full days off before meeting up again on Wednesday.
Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell and Devon Smith accompanied the team officials to Grenada but the other squad members went home. Richardson said keeping the players together and using the time to bond would have been more sensible.
"I saw them in the first round in Jamaica and I felt they looked really good," Richardson told Reuters. "Then, when they came to Antigua it was a totally different ball game and they looked totally flat. Now we are hearing they want time to go home and relax.
"That's unbelievable in the middle of a tournament when they should be representing their people. They have let us down. We should be bonding as a unit and getting ready for the big matches coming up, not going off in different directions."
Richardson said West Indies could hardly complain that they needed a rest. "What about teams like Australia and New Zealand who play much more cricket than our guys?" he said. "Aren't they tired too?"
New Zealand are currently having their biggest lay-off between games - six days - while Australia have seven days without a match. Australia's players were given three full rest days this week but Glenn McGrath said a week was "too long" to be off the field and it could potentially hurt the team's momentum.
Momentum is hardly a problem for West Indies, who have lost all three of their Super Eights matches so far. However, Garner agreed with Richardson that spending a few extra days preparing and working on team plans would be more beneficial than relaxing with their families.
"Going home to do what?" Garner said. "It serves no purpose, as a matter of fact it's a bunch of nonsense. We have a drastic situation where we need to win all three matches to qualify for the next stage. You can't walk off in the middle of the battle. We have to be together and correct the errors and get things right."
After the South Africa game, West Indies have a further eight days off before they tackle Bangladesh in Barbados. Two days later, they wrap up the Super Eights with a match against England.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.