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March 6, 2005
Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister of Grenada, has reacted to Teddy Griffith's statement and feels it's "premature and unnecessary". Griffith announced that seven of the West Indian players - including Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle - who have contracts with Cable & Wireless, rivals of Digicel, the team sponsor, would not be considered for further selection, unless they presented the non-financial provisions in their contracts for review by the WICB.
"It's unfortunate that Teddy chose to go to the airwaves and raise the temperature," he was quoted as saying in the Starbroek News. "There were compromises being put forward that would be seriously considered, and we alerted him and all persons involved as to what was taking place. He assured me he would do nothing to do injury to the negotiating process. I'm not sure he achieved that by his announcement."
However, Mitchell, who is also the head of the CARICOM sub-committee on cricket, was optimistic of reaching a solution and said "all was not lost" in the long-running dispute between the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA). He added: "I think there have been some reasonable proposals put forward that will lead to some kind of compromise solution."
He also revealed that he would chair a meeting in St.George's tomorrow, attended by all the parties, aimed at reaching an "amicable solution" and allow the West Indies team enough time to gear up for the home series against South Africa, starting on March 31.
Dinanath Ramnarine, the WIPA president, Denis O'Brien, the chairman Digicel, and an unnamed "top executive" of Cable & Wireless will also be present at the meeting. "I'm very hopeful that we should have some solution on Monday," Mitchell told Caribbean Media Corporation radio. "I'm heartened by the fact that all the parties are committed to coming at the highest possible level. [It would] allow West Indies Cricket to put forward its best players on the field and, of course, do no damage to our prospects of hosting a successful World Cup and all the aspects that go with it."
Mitchell was also intent that the West Indian board inform both South Africa and Pakistan, by March 14 ,whether their tours were still on saying that there was still a possibility of WIPA instructing the players not to sign any contracts if the various issues were not settled. Mitchell had succeeded in coming to a last-minute deal between the WICB and WIPA a few months earlier which allowed West Indies to send a full-strength side to Australia for the VB Series. But several points, including the introduction of annual retainer for 16-20 leading players, remained unresolved.
"I don't see Digicel investing a lot of money in a weak West Indies Team for any considerable time," he continued, "or benefiting from its sponsorship, and Cable & Wireless can't benefit from sponsoring players who are not members of the West Indies Team. The WICB is not going to achieve everything it wants to achieve. Neither party can afford to do that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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