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March 30, 2009
Concerns of a West Indies player strike have eased, with local officials confident the fifth one-day international in St Lucia will proceed on Thursday. Bryan Calixte, president of the St Lucia National Cricket Association, believes there is a "90%" chance of a full-strength West Indies team turning out for the series decider against England at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
"There was a bit of concern for a while because there was a dark cloud hanging over the game," Calixte told Cricinfo. "But it more or less looks like it is turning into a silver lining. I have been told by good sources that there is a 90% chance the match will go ahead. That is obviously good news, because there have been a lot of patrons on talk radio here expressing concerns about the match going ahead. There has been a lot of excitement with the series coming here at 2-2, and the West Indies playing some good cricket in the last few months."
Doubt has surrounded the fifth ODI since the West Indies captain, Chris Gayle, told reporters on Saturday that an ongoing pay dispute with the WICB had prompted players to consider strike action. Talks between the board and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) broke down last week, however attempts are being made to bring the parties back to the bargaining table.
"I can say straight up that a boycott is a real possibility," Gayle said on Saturday. "I am not going to go all around the world. I am going to say it plainly, 'we need to have these matters resolved before the end of the series', so we can forget about all of these disputes."
Donald Peters, the WICB chief executive, declined to reveal the state of negotiations with WIPA. "We have no further information," Peters said. "In any case, we have agreed not to make any further comment on this."
But it seems progress has been made. A West Indian board official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Cricinfo he was confident of the St Lucia one-dayer going ahead as scheduled. And the fact that the West Indies saw fit on Monday to name a squad for the fifth and final ODI was perceived by others as a positive sign.
John Dyson, the West Indies coach, said he was not aware of the players' intentions. "I have not been involved in the meetings," he said. "I am preparing as though the game is going ahead."
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