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WICB threatens rebels
April 01, 2005 16:05 IST
The West Indies Players Association claimed that Brian Lara and the six other suspended star cricketers had received death threats over the contract dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board.
WIPA President Dinanath Ramnarine said the players "faced overwhelming pressure including death threats, and threats from the WICB never to play again, threats and intimidation from sponsors, and pressure from the highest political levels within the length and breadth of the Caribbean community."
The board "has suspended its discretion, jettisoned all reasoning, and is hellbent at all costs to do the bidding of its sponsor.
"In fact, the board was prepared to sacrifice West Indies cricket and the development of a successful team on the altar of commercial expediency," he added.
The WICB termed the WIPA statement "highly emotional and totally inaccurate," and said it is "most unbecoming and unworthy of an organisation representing professional sportsmen."
The dispute sprang up before the one-day triangular series in Australia earlier this year as the seven players banned by the cricket board had personal contracts with Cable and Wireless, a direct competitor of the board's main sponsor, Digicel.
The WICB had put the issue on the back-burner and send a Lara-led West Indies team to Australia.
The Board, in a statement, had said, "a number of issues still unresolved" but that a compromise had been reached with the West Indies Players Association and the sponsors.
But the dispute was brought to the fore once again before the start of the Test series against South Africa at home.
On Wednesday, the seven players endorsing Cable and Wireless were asked to submit their contracts for review to Justice Adrian Saunders, who would give a decision by the scheduled end of the Test on Monday.
The WICB deemed six of the players ineligible for the first Test because of the clash of contracts. Although it cleared Lara on the grounds that his original contract was signed with the board's consent and before its deal with Digicel, the former captain declined as a sign of solidarity with the other Cable and Wireless players.
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle, announced on Wednesday they would withdraw from their Cable and Wireless contracts.
The decision was expected to allow them back into the West Indies team for the second Test, starting in Port-of-Spain on April 8.
But there has been no word on the position of Lara and the remaining four; Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Smith and Ravi Rampaul.