Ramdin to lead squad for South Africa tour
West Indies selectors yesterday announced a 15-man squad for the tour of South Africa and have given players a week to sign match tour contracts, in an attempt to avoid the chaos that led to the abandoned tour of India last month.
The squad will be led by regular captain Denesh Ramdin, one of eight players involved in the controversial abandoned tour who have been included in the squad.
In announcing the squad, however, the West Indies Cricket Board said the selected players had been sent match tour contracts on Tuesday and had a deadline of November 18th to sign and return them.
“All players selected have been notified of their selection and that their selection is contingent upon their signing of the Match Tour Contract which was sent to each player selected on Tuesday November 11,” the WICB said in a statement yesterday.
The match tour contracts lay at the heart of the bitter dispute which engulfed West Indies cricket in recent weeks, with the one-day players on the tour of India last month contending that the contracts would lead to a drastic reduction in their earnings.
After failing in their appeals to their union, the West Indies Players Association, and the WICB, the players quit the tour with two matches of the limited overs series remaining. Their decision also put paid to the three-Test tour scheduled to start October 30th.
The dispute cast doubt over the South Africa tour but selectors yesterday moved to quell those fears, by naming a full strength squad for the engagement which will see the Windies play three Tests against the Proteas starting next month.
Ramdin will be joined by Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor, all of whom were part of the disrupted India tour.
There had been widespread media speculation over Ramdin’s sacking as captain and the axing of players involved in the India tour, but selectors have stuck with Ramdin as skipper and all the leading names.
St Vincent’s Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who mediated the dispute, said recently he had sought and gained assurances from the WICB that the players involved in the strike would not be victimised through the selection process.
Chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd said yesterday it was always the intention of the selection panel to pick the best squad available to represent the region.
“Of course at all times the Selection Panel aims to select the best and strongest team available,” the legendary former Test skipper said.
“We look forward to this squad giving a good account of themselves for the three Tests in South Africa.”
The squad includes veteran opener Chris Gayle who did not tour India last month because of injury, and sees the inclusion of opener Johnson who made his Test debut recently when Bangladesh toured the Caribbean.
Rookie Jamaican right-hander Jermaine Blackwood maintains his spot with young seamers Sheldon Cottrell and Jason Holder also included.
The tour will be a difficult one for West Indies especially coming up against the world’s number one side, and against the backdrop of the contracts dispute but Lloyd said it was important the side started strongly.
“There is a significant amount of international cricket to be played over the next six months, including Test matches against some of the higher ranked teams in world cricket and as such it would be critical for the squad to get off on a positive note in South Africa,” Lloyd pointed out.
“Specifically we have selected young fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell who is a good prospect. The Selection Panel is looking to introduce players such as Cottrell who can contribute in moving West Indies cricket forward.”
West Indies leave for South Africa on November 30th.
SQUAD – Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton.