Focus on SA, says Sir Richie
JOHANNESBURG – Team manager Sir Richie Richardson says the West Indies have moved beyond the recent controversial impasse with their union and board, and are fully focused on the upcoming Test series against South Africa.
The Caribbean side are touring 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 and the West Indies Cricket Board.
While the impasse initially cast doubt over the South African tour, Sir Richie said the situation had now settled down and the squad was focused on events on the field.
“In recent weeks we haven’t had any discussions with regards to that, which is a good thing. It means we are not focusing on what has happened,” the former Test captain told a media conference here yesterday.
“We are now focusing on the future, which is here in South Africa. We’re here to play Test cricket, initially, and that is our focus. All the players are pretty much ready for the challenges we’re going to face.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, especially with South Africa here at home but we are prepared and we are going to give of our best and try and give a good account of ourselves.”
Despite rumours of sanctions for players involved in the walk-out, selectors chose a full-strength side for South Africa. This week, however, superstar opener Chris Gayle opted out of the series with injury.
The 35-year-old left-hander has been campaigning here 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.
“If he’s around we’ll be happy to invite him in but he’s not part of the squad and I’m not sure the authorities will allow him to be around. But certainly if he wants to come to the hotel or come to practice that wouldn’t be a problem, but whether or not he would be allowed in the dressing room during the match, I’m not sure that would be possible.”
West Indies, who arrived here Tuesday, play a three-day match starting Wednesday in Benoni, ahead of the first Test which bowls off at Centurion on December 17. (CMC)