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September 19, 2009
The protracted contract dispute between the West Indies board and its leading players took a step towards resolution when the board accepted the recommendations of the region's political leaders. The West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), which is representing the cricketers, had already accepted the plan put forward by the Caribbean community (CARICOM) last week.
One of the important CARICOM suggestions was that all West Indies players should make themselves available for selection "in accordance with normal WICB requirements", particularly in the regional tournaments.
A second-string squad is currently representing the West Indies, although the ICC has said a window is still open for a full-strength side to be picked for the Champions Trophy which starts on Tuesday. The WICB may not want to change a team that is already in South Africa preparing for the tournament, but the West Indies' star players, such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sawran, could be back in action once the domestic season starts with the regional one-day tournament in October.
The other recommendations of the CARICOM ask the WICB and WIPA to sort immediate issues like image rights and fees for the one-dayers against India earlier this year to facilitate signing retainer contracts by October 1.
Julian Hunte, the president of the WICB, said that the board wanted to restart negotiations with WIPA to try end the impasse. "The WICB is anxious to hold an initial meeting to discuss a roadmap which fulfills the meaning and intent of the CARICOM recommendations," he said.
The recommendations arrive in the aftermath of failed negotiations between the WICB and the WIPA under the mediation of the CARICOM-appointed Sir Shridath Ramphal. The contracts crisis reached its height when senior West Indies players boycotted the home Test series against Bangladesh, and the WICB fielded a makeshift team which was also retained for the Champions Trophy.
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