Lara, Sarwan and Gayle axed
The West Indian selectors have followed their board's line by not including Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle and four others in the list of 22 probables for the forthcoming series against South Africa and Pakistan. This is the upshot of a bitter dispute between the board and the players over sponsorship contracts.
The 22 "invited players" have been sent individual tour contracts along with their invitation for selection and were asked to respond by March 11. Apart from the big three, the others in the negative list are Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul. These seven, who have personal endorsement contracts with Cable & Wireless (C&W), have been sidelined because the WICB believes that their contract with C&W jeopardises the board's sponsorship deal with Digicel, a rival communications company.
Late last year, the Board asked the players concerned for details - excluding the financial details - of their contracts to ensure that no problems arose for either the board or the players. The players refused. The board alleged that even after a negotiation overseen by the Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell, in which he had been assured by C&W that they would not display advertisements relating it in any way with the West Indian team, C&W had indeed made references to West Indian cricket.
Teddy Griffith, the Board president - who made the initial announcement on a live broadcast on television and radio across the region - said that this had put the board in an awkward position with its sponsor, because it had compromised the board's "ability to deliver on its commitments to Digicel". He said, "It should be noted that the Digicel sponsorship not only benefits those players who are fortunate enough to gain selection to the West Indies team, but in fact contributes to every level of West Indies cricket." He concluded that the board had to take action for the betterment of West Indies cricket, as opposed to individual contracts that would favour a few players.
Invited players Devon Smith, Wavell Hinds, Ryan Ramdass, Daren Ganga, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ryan Hinds, Narsingh Deonarine, Darren Sammy, Donavon Pagon, Carlton Baugh, Courtney Browne, Xavier Marshall, Denesh Ramdin, Ian Bradshaw, Dave Mohammed, Pedro Collins, Corey Collymore, Dwight Washington, Reon King, Darren Powell, Jerome Taylor, Tino Best.