Windies set off for South Africa
ST JOHN’S – The West Indies Test team headed for South Africa yesterday – the first international assignment by a senior West Indies squad since the ill-fated tour of India last month.
Groups of players left different countries yesterday evening for London, where they will assemble before flying on to Johannesburg at 9 p.m tonight. They are scheduled to arrive in South Africa’s biggest city tomorrow morning.
Left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell will join the squad next week following the conclusion of the third round of matches in the WICB Professional Cricket League. He was asked by selectors to stay behind and represent Jamaica Franchise in order to prove his match readiness.
The tour, which was shrouded in doubt following the controversial decision to abandon the One-day tour of India, will see West Indies contest three Tests against the No.1-ranked Proteas.
Significantly, the 15-man Windies squad includes seven of those players who took protest action on the tour, and all eyes will be on team chemistry in light of the recent fractious developments.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) also came under pressure from St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who sought and gained assurances that the players would not face censure.
Gonsalves was at the centre of negotiations between the WICB, the West Indies Players Association and the players, as the abandoned tour mushroomed into a full blown crisis.
The confusion erupted after the One-Day International team on tour of India claimed that the changes in their tour contracts would result in a significant reduction in their earnings.
West Indies will be led by Denesh Ramdin and includes veteran opener Chris Gayle who missed the tour of India through injury. Darren Bravo will miss the tour after declining selection for “personal reasons”.
West Indies are due to have their first major training session on Thursday before playing a three-day practice game in Benoni starting on December 10. The first Test bowls off on December 17th at Centurion. (CMC)
SQUAD – Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cottrell, Assad Fudadin, Shannon Gabriel, Christopher Gayle, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton.