Windies could be replaced for tri-series

Published: Thursday, November 25, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Cricket Australia said on Thursday it could consider an alternative team to replace the West Indies in a one-day tournament next year if the Caribbean side does not resolve a dispute over player contracts.

Captain Brian Lara and 15 others were dumped yesterday from a 25-man preliminary tour squad because of their contracts with Cable and Wireless, a telecommunications rival of Digicel, which recently signed a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with the West Indies Cricket Board.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, Wavell Hinds, Chris Gayle, wicketkeeper Courtney Browne, bowlers Marlon Samuels and Corey Collymore are other front-line players involved.

Cricket Australia said it is monitoring the dispute, and could consider inviting anther country for the series, starting in January.

"At the moment we're talking about hypotheticals, but if they don't (agree) we wil start thinking about alternatives," spokesman Peter Young said.

"If a week is a long time in cricket, then seven weeks is an eternity so it's not on the radar just now."

Only Zimbabwe, rebuilding after the sacking of its best players, will be free over the first six weeks of next year. The Zimbabweans played in the Australian tri-series tournament earlier this year.

"That would be disappointing," Australian captain Ricky Ponting said of the possibility of playing an understrength West Indies side. "You want to be playing the best teams you possibly can around the world."

"Hopefully it will be sorted out and resolved and hopefully they do send out their full-strength side."

The West Indies board has not named the replacements for the axed 16 players.

Talks between the dumped players and their board are continuing. They have until the weekend to resolve the standoff as players are due in Barbados on Monday for a training camp.

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