Windies 'rebels' called for SA tour
ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC):Eight players from the controversial tour of India have been included in a full-strength West Indies squad announced yesterday for the tour of South Africa, as selectors moved swiftly to erase any claims of victimisation.
The 15-man contingent will be led by regular captain Denesh Ramdin and includes Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor, all of whom walked off the tour of India in a contract row with their union, the West Indies Players' Association.
However, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the chaotic situation that led to the players' unprecedented action, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) said it had given the players a week to sign match tour contracts.
"All players selected have been notified of their selection and that their selection is contingent upon their signing of the match tour contract which was sent to each player selected on Tuesday November 11," the WICB said in a statement.
"The deadline for the return of signed match tour contracts to the WICB is 5 p.m. (ECT), Tuesday, November 18."
It was the issue of match tour contracts that led to the chaos on the India tour, as West Indies players contended they would lose up to 75 per cent of their earnings with the new agreement.
After lobbying West Indies Players' Association and then the WICB without success, the players walked off the tour with two matches remaining to be played. Their action also scuppered the three-Test series.
Subsequently, there had been widespread media speculation that Ramdin would be sacked as captain, and the players involved in the walkout overlooked, but selectors have stuck with the Trinidadian as skipper and the leading names.
Chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd said yesterday it was always the intention of the selection panel to pick the best squad available to represent the region.
"Of course, at all times the selection panel aims to select the best and strongest team available," the legendary former Test skipper said.
"We look forward to this squad giving a good account of themselves for the three Tests in South Africa."
included in squad
The squad includes rookie Jamaican right-hander Jermaine Blackwood who made his debut this year against New Zealand, along with seamer Jason Holder who also played his first Test against the touring Black Caps.
Left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell, who played a single Test on the tour of India last year, has been named along with opener Johnson who made his Test debut recently when Bangladesh toured the Caribbean.
Veteran opener Chris Gayle, who did not tour India last month because of injury, has been included.
However, there is no room for Barbados batsman Kirk Edwards who has had a poor run of form of late.
The tour is expected to be a difficult one for West Indies, especially coming off the fractious India tour, the subsequent dispute and also facing the world's number-one side.
Despite this, Lloyd said it was important that the Windies start the tour strongly.
"There is a significant amount of international cricket to be played over the next six months, including Test matches against some of the higher ranked teams in world cricket, and as such it would be critical for the squad to get off on a positive note in South Africa," Lloyd pointed out.
"Specifically, we have selected young fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell who is a good prospect. The Selection Panel is looking to introduce players such as Cottrell who can contribute in moving West Indies cricket forward."
West Indies leave for South Africa on November 30 and face the hosts in the opening Test in Guateng starting December 17.
SQUAD: Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton.