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West Indies select full-strength squad for SA tour

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ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (AP) _ Less than a month after a pay dispute derailed its tour to India, the West Indies has selected a full-strength squad for a series in South Africa next month.

But it comes with a caveat.

Chief Selector Clive Lloyd said the players must sign a tour contract by Nov. 18 or they’ll miss out on the three-test series starting Dec. 17.

Denesh Ramdin was retained as captain and star batsman Chris Gayle was included in the squad announced Wednesday.

“Of course at all times the selection panel aims to select the best and strongest team available,” Lloyd said. “We look forward to this squad giving a good account of themselves for the three tests in South Africa.”

Lloyd, a former test and World Cup-winning captain, had to apologize last month for the West Indies’ abrupt withdrawal less than halfway through its India tour, which left furious local organizers threatening legal action and scrambling to organize replacement matches against Sri Lanka.

“I did not want it to end like this. It’s unfortunate we left, and I hope the damage is not irreparable,” Lloyd said at the time.

The International Cricket Council described the West Indies’ withdrawal from the tour as “damaging and unacceptable” and indicated that such behavior in future would jeopardize players’ participation in lucrative domestic tournaments like the Indian Premier League.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India, which is the most powerful stakeholder in international cricket with vast revenues from sponsorship and TV deals, has suspended bilateral ties with the West Indies and also claimed $42 million as compensation for lost revenue.

There was initially concern about the South Africa tour going ahead, but the West Indies management has taken the first step in proceeding by selecting the squad while an investigation into the India tour is ongoing.

“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 said.

The three-test series will be followed by three Twenty20 matches and five limited-overs internationals. The World Cup starts February in Australia and New Zealand.

West Indies squad: Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Braithwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Christopher Gayle, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton.

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