Only three of 13 invited players met a deadline to sign contracts for the West Indies tour of Sri Lanka next month, leaving the trip in doubt over an ongoing dispute about players' endorsements, a source in the West Indies Cricket Board said Wednesday.
The board planned a teleconference on Thursday morning to make decisions that could determine whether the tour goes ahead, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said the board could use the three signed players plus a West Indies 'A' team already in Sri Lanka, on a developmental visit, to meet obligations for the tour.
West Indies is scheduled for Two tests in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 14-July 18 and in Kandy, Sri Lanka, July 22-July 26, prior to the triangular one-day tournament in which the West Indies will play Sri Lanka and India twice. The final will be played in Colombo, on August 14.
The source refused to say which three players had signed, but they appeared to include star batsman Brian Lara. On Tuesday, board spokesman Leonard Robertson said the board has given permission for Lara to skip the second leg of the Sri Lanka tour.
Lara had said a reduction in one-day cricket would give him more time in the Test arena, which is his passion.
On Sunday, the board issued invitations to 13 players and asked them to sign by Tuesday, saying it acted after talks with the West Indies Players' Association 'broke down.'
The dispute has been simmering for months since the board signed a multimillion dollar long-term contract to be sponsored by the Irish-based company Digicel while seven players have personal contracts with rival telecommunications provider Cable & Wireless, the previous sponsor of West Indies Cricket.
The disagreement jeopardized West Indies' tour of Australia in January, and caused a below-strength team to be fielded for the first Test against South Africa in March.
Then, the Caribbean Community appointed a judge who ruled that the players have the right to enter into personal endorsement contracts. Players now are refusing to sign in hopes the board will again have to turn to the judge, and that he will again rule in their favor.
The 13 invited players are Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Pedro Collins, Corey Collymore, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Brian Lara, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.