The West Indies Players' Association has lashed out at the non-selection of Brian Lara and six other leading players who have signed personal endorsement contracts with Cable & Wireless, accusing the West Indies Cricket Board of acting as "judge, jury and executioner" in the matter.
On Sunday, the West Indies squad for the first Digicel-sponsored Test against South Africa was announced, and though Lara's name was officially omitted, with the captaincy passing to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, he was nonetheless offered an invitation to join the squad, which Lara - bound as he is by contractual obligations - was reported to have neither accepted nor declined.
In a press release, the WIPA president, Dinanath Ramnarine, was extremely critical of the course of action that the board had taken. "It is clear that as soon as the players cross one hurdle, another is erected in its place, until we have reached the stage where the board has exposed itself as judge, jury and executioner," he wrote. "And all the while, it bold-facedly maintains that it respects the binding decision of Justice Saunders regarding the players' rights to enter into personal endorsement contracts.
"The players and their careers, and the hopes and aspirations of Caribbean people, should not be made scapegoats in this issue," added Ramnarine. "WIPA strongly deprecates the manner in which the Board issued an invitation to Mr Brian Lara to make himself available for selection to the squad for the first Test match. WIPA wishes to strongly record its wholehearted support for the position which Mr Lara has taken in response to the Board.
In summary, the WIPA proposed that, in order to ensure the best available side to take on South Africa on March 31, "the status quo achieved for the VB Series in Australia ... be maintained." This, they added, would be in the best commercial interests of the two competing companies, and was the desired resolution as voiced "by the overwhelming majority of the Caribbean people." Nevertheless, the WIPA warned that, if such a course of action was not taken, they would be left with "no other alternative but to take such actions as may be necessary to protect our members' rights and the interest of West Indies cricket".
West Indies squad Wavell Hinds, Devon Smith, Donavon Pagon, Daren Ganga, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (capt), Narsingh Deonarine, Ryan Hinds, Courtney Browne (wk, vice-capt), Corey Collymore, Pedro Collins, Dwight Washington, Daren Powell, Jerome Taylor, Reon King.
South Africa tour of West Indies