Lara and six others to remain out of squad

Published: Sunday, March 13, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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St. John's:West Indies skipper Brian Lara and six of his teammates will remain frozen out of the squad to face South Africa and Pakistan after the latest moves to solve the long-running contract crisis failed.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) insisted that Lara, vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Ravi Rampaul will remain exiled from the 22-man squad.

The seven players all have individual contracts with Cable and Wireless, a rival company of the Board's man backers Digicel.

"The Board will commence inspection of certain contracts pertaining to Cable and Wireless contracted players which were provided late on Friday by Cable and Wireless," said a statement by the WICB.

"The purpose of the Board's inspection is to ensure that the contracts do not impose on the players any obligations which could cause them or the WICB to be in breach of the sponsorship contract which has been executed between the WICB and Digicel.

"While the examination is in process, the players who hold personal endorsement contracts with Cable and Wireless - Bravo, Edwards, Gayle, Lara, Rampaul, Sarwan and Dwayne Smith - will not be considered for selection to the West Indies team until the Board satisfies itself as to the nature of those contracts."

The seven players were originally left out of the squad last week because of fears that their individual deals were incompatible with the Board's official backers as the four-month dispute dragged on.

The first Test against South Africa gets underway in Guyana on March 31.

"Based on commitments received from all 22 players invited to make themselves available for selection for the series, the tours to the Caribbean by South Africa and Pakistan will proceed as planned," added the statement.

"The selectors will be instructed to name the squad for the first Test on Thursday March 17 and those selected will assemble for the pre-tour camp scheduled to commence on Wednesday March 23."

The spokesman also tried to reassure fans in the Caribbean about the strength of the team to face the tourists.

"The Board's primary consideration is what is best for West Indies cricket and its future," the statement added.

"Therefore, in the Board's view, the basis of discussion has to be to field the best team in the circumstances and not the best team at all costs."

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