Friday, September 4, 2009

Play or be dropped - WI selector

Clyde Butts, the West Indies' chairman of selectors, has warned striking players to make themselves available for the region's domestic one-day tournament next month or face exclusion from the ensuing tour of Australia. Butts was hopeful, though not certain, that the industrial dispute between the board and the players will be resolved before the touring squad to Australia is announced, but raised the possibility that another weakened side, such as that humbled by Bangladesh in July, could be named if the unofficial deadline is not observed.

"The board is hoping to resolve this as quickly as possible," Butts told Cricinfo. "The board has asked the players to make themselves available for a domestic tournament from October 10, and if they do that, then I am confident we will have a strong squad for Australia. There has been a statement released about this.

"If that doesn't happen, then it depends on how the board views things. I believe there is a rule that players have to play in the domestic tournament preceding a tour to be considered. I am hopeful most, if not all, the players will make themselves available for that tournament and we can proceed as normal.

"Certainly, it would be very difficult for a young team to go to a place like Australia and not have the senior players to rub shoulders with and learn from. I am hoping the impasse will have been resolved by then, but I just don't know for sure. I am optimistic, however."

Butts, a former Test offspinner, admitted that neither the players nor the board could afford a long-term continuation of their industrial dispute, from both a financial and general interest perspective. Since the likes of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan withdrew their candidacy for selection, West Indies have suffered embarrassing Test and one-day series defeats to Bangladesh and named a severely weakened side for this month's Champions Trophy in South Africa.

"This will probably go on for a little while yet (but) I don't think West Indies cricket can afford to go down this road much longer," Butts said. "There isn't a person in this region who doesn't want to see their best players represent them, and the hope is that the impasse will soon be over so cricket can again be the winner.

"It is difficult as chairman of selectors when you are unable to pick your best team. There is a concern about (players retiring to play Twenty20 cricket), but from the players I have spoken to that is not on the cards. Most want to play cricket for the West Indies and are looking forward to doing so again at some point in the future."

Butts added that Darren Powell's withdrawal from West Indies' Champions' Trophy squad was due to injury, and not pressure exerted by WIPA, the players' union. Powell, the most experienced member of West Indies' original 15-man squad, has been replaced by uncapped fast bowler Kevin McLean.

"As far as I know it was injury related," he said. "He hurt himself playing a game in Jamaica and that's why he has had to pull out."

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