Injuries that have already eliminated Fidel Edwards from the imminent West Indies tour of Australia have now cost the fast bowler a retainer contract from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Chief executive Ernest Hilaire confirmed on Wednesday that one-year contracts in four separate grades had been issued to 33 players but had been withheld for Edwards and opening batsman Dale Richards until their "medical status is cleared".
He noted that when Edwards returned to Barbados from the ICC World Twenty20 in England in June with a back injury, the WICB put him on a remedial programme. "He abandoned it and went to play in the Champions League in India (in October) and got injured there," Hilaire said. "We now need to sort that out."
Like Edwards, Richards has been set back by a succession of injuries. Richards missed last season's home series against England and the following series in England with knee and ankle problems. A dislocated shoulder during the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa ruled him out of the recent President's Cup, the regional one-day tournament. "It's not that they wouldn't be offered contracts," Hilaire said. "It's just that we have to resolve their medical status."
Based on experience, record and potential, the contracts are graded at US$120,000, $80,000, $60,000 and $24,000. The last category is for what is called 'developmental players'. Match, tour and sponsorship fees are additional and paid to those selected for West Indies, with or without contracts.
Hilaire said the names already published in the Caribbean media were correct but he would not state which were in which group nor give the overall costs. An estimate of around US$2 million would not be short of the mark.
As promised, contracts have been given to all those hurriedly called up for the first Test against Bangladesh in St Vincent in July after the selected 13 withdrew because of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) dispute with the WICB, mainly over contracts.
"The board told them before the Test that it would offer all of them contracts because of their commitment and the sacrifices they were making to come and play,' Hilaire said. Among them are teenagers Andre Creary of Jamaica and Kraigg Brathwaite of Barbados who were in the first Test squad but did not appear in the series. Ryan Hinds, Rawl Lewis and Devon Thomas are the only ones who played against Bangladesh not included in the deal as they only came in after the first Test.
Of those originally chosen against Bangladesh and who have returned to the fold following the Caricom-brokered agreement between the WICB and the WIPA, only Runako Morton has not been contracted. Barbados allrounder Dwayne Smith, who last played for the West Indies more than two years ago, and the exciting 20-year-old Trinidad and Tobago left-hand batsman Darren Bravo, younger brother of Dwayne, are both on the list.
A surprise omission is Kieron Pollard, the big, hard-hitting all-rounder who was one of the stars of Trinidad and Tobago's outstanding performance in the Champions League in India last month. He has a modest record in 15 ODIs but his average of 37.46, with three hundreds, in regional first-class cricket is better than many of those chosen. He has now signed to turn out for South Australia in Australia's Twenty20 competition in January.
List of contracted players
Barbados: Sulieman Benn, Tino Best, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kemar Roach, Dwayne Smith.
Combined Campuses and Colleges: Ryan Austin, Kevin McLean, Omar Phillips, Floyd Reifer, Chadwick Walton.
Trinidad & Tobago: Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Lendl Simmons.
Guyana: Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Travis Dowlin, Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Jamaica: Dave Bernard, Andre Creary, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Brendan Nash, Jerome Taylor.
Windward Islands: Andre Fletcher, Nelon Pascal, Darren Sammy, Devon Smith.
Leeward Islands: Lionel Baker, Kieran Powell, Gavin Tonge.
Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years