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WI manager talks up team in absence of stars

Tony Howard, the team manager of the West Indies, has exuded confidence ahead of the first Test in Guyana on March 31

Cricinfo staff

West Indies will have a fresh look against South Africa © Getty Images
Tony Howard, the manager of the West Indies team, has exuded confidence ahead of the first Test against South Africa, which begins in Guyana on March 31. Howard said that his team, even minus Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle, were geared up and ready to face the challenge posed by the South Africans.
"They are quite excited, actually. We have been training from early morning to late in the day so we have been putting in a lot of hard work," Howard told The Trinidad Express. "We are trying to build a unit of players who will work together."
West Indies have been hampered by the omission of it star players, owing to conflict in their individual contracts with Cable and Wireless and the team sponsor Digicel. Lara, who was later invited to join the team by the board, declined pending the selection of others left out for similar reasons. The selectors have named several fresh faces in the squad: Donovan Pagon, Narsingh Deonarine, and Dwight Washington, who would be donning the West Indian colours for the first time.
Howard reckoned that this would be good opportunity for the new players to get a teaste of international cricket. "I always look forward to a challenge and the players will approach the challenge with confidence," Howard continued. "Some factors are missing, but we are looking at things in the long term."
South Africa have been concerned about the fitness of Jacques Kallis, who has been troubled by a hip injury, and its likely that he would be unable to bowl in the first Test. Shaun Pollock was the other casualty and will the miss the first Test because of an ankle injury.