Contracts crisis now in the past, says Sir Richie

The Caribbean side is touring South Africa in the wake of the one-day team’s controversial decision to abandon the tour of India over a contracts dispute with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

While the impasse initially cast doubt over the South African tour, Sir Richie said the situation had now settled down and the squad was focussed on events on the field.

The decision to abandon the India tour led to a full-blown crisis in the Caribbean game and triggered a series of high-level meetings between cricket officials, chaired by St Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

With the abandoned tour also leading to the cancellation of the three-Test series, an infuriated Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) lodged a US $42 million claim of compensation for losses before the WICB, an action that threatens to bankrupt West Indies cricket.

Despite rumours of sanctions for players involved in the walk-out, selectors chose a full strength side for the tour to South Africa. This week, however, superstar opener Chris Gayle opted out of the series with an injury.

However, the 35-year-old left-hander has been campaigning in South Africa for the Highveld Lions in the Ram Slam Twenty20 League and is expected to play in Sunday’s semi-final against Warriors.

With 103 Tests to his name, Gayle’s absence will be a huge blow to a struggling side, but Sir Richie said the Jamaican would be welcome to offer any motivation he could from the sidelines.

“He’s very friendly with us and if he wants to come around we’re not going to say no. I’m sure the guys will be happy to see him. He always has wise words of wisdom for the youngsters in particular and he would be a motivating factor,” said Sir Richie.

The West Indies team arrived in South Africa on Tuesday. They will play a three-day match, starting next Wednesday in Benoni, ahead of the first Test, which bowls off at Centurion on December 17.


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