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March 15, 2011
Runako Morton, the West Indies and Trinidad batsman, has been expelled from West Indies' Elite Athletes Assistance Programme after he and Leeward Islands allrounder Tonito Willett were arrested in Port of Spain, on Saturday, for possession of marijuana. The two players were at the time involved in a regional four-day match between their two teams at the Queen's Park Oval, but took no further part in it after their arrest.
However, Sports Minister Anil Roberts said the decision to remove Morton from the 33 cricketers on the EAAP list was not because of the charges but the fact he broke team curfew.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) confirmed the arrest on Saturday, but did not give any further details of the incident other than that the players remained in custody.
"The duo was taken into police custody sometime between the end of the first day's play and the start of the second day's play of the Trinidad and Tobago verses Leeward Islands match. They remain in police custody," a statement said.
However, sources told ESPNcricinfo that the players' car was pulled over during a routine traffic stop in the city after the pair had spent the evening in a bar. They were expected to remain in custody until at least Monday.
T&T manager Omar Khan later confirmed to the Trinidad Express that Morton and Willet were charged on Friday night and being held at Morvant Police Station. Khan said Morton had abandoned the team and therefore was on his own for now.
"Unfortunately Runako Morton abandoned the team last night [Friday night] against team guidelines and team rules, and he left the team hotel at Cascadia and did not return. When we were leaving the hotel this morning [Saturday morning] at 8.15 am, there was still no sign of Morton. We tried to call his cell phone but he could not be contacted.
"This morning [Saturday morning] at around 11 am, we got a call from the manager of the Cascadia Hotel indicating that the Police has just reported that Morton was held last night together with Tonito Willet of the Leeward Islands and they had found marijuana on them."
Khan said both players were taken to the Morvant Police Station, where they were charged and held for the night, adding that the team was willing to provide counselling, should it be needed. Khan said that the absence of Morton did have an impact on the T&T team but the players fought hard to put that out of their minds and win first innings points.
"Obviously it would have had an effect on the team but the message to the team was not to allow this unfortunate incident to hinder our progress in the game," Khan said.
Morton, 32, has played 15 Test, 56 ODIs and seven Twenty20 internationals for West Indies, and his most recent international was a T20 against Australia in Sydney last February. He has had a chequered career which included being expelled from the West Indies Academy in 2001 and then pulling out of the 2002 Champions Trophy after lying about the death of his grandmother.
His ODI career has been a strange mix where he holds the record for the slowest duck, a 31-ball effort against Australia in 2006, but has also scored two hundreds and averages 33.
Willett, 28, has not earned international honours during an 11-year first-class career. He made 25 on the opening day of the current four-day match while Morton fell for 7 shortly before the close of play.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge