Windies tour to South Africa under threat as BCCI spat continues

2014-10-21 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A new season and another threat to the headline home international feature of the summer.

That is the situation Cricket South Africa (CSA) finds itself in as a revolt in already shaky West Indies cricket puts in potential jeopardy the Caribbean team’s fairly lengthy tour here in the prime December and January months.

With the World Cup the jewel in the crown of the southern hemisphere cricket roster for 2014/15 (from February), the Proteas are scheduled to entertain only the Windies for bilateral combat this season — three Tests, five one-day internationals (ODIs) and two Twenty20 internationals.

But, although several weeks still lie ahead for the West Indians’ sensational mid-tour pullout revolt in India to be settled, CSA officials are sure to be nervously awaiting any positive signs of olive branches between the West Indies Cricket Board and their best players, who have angered superpower India by their actions.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is spitting mad over the stoppage of the current visit after only four of the five scheduled ODIs — with three Tests and a T20 international supposedly to follow — and have threatened to sue the West Indian Cricket Board (WICB) over the loss.

A figure of $65 million (R718,25 milion) has been bandied about.

It is an all-West Indian rumpus complicated by the fact the players who had been engaged in the Indian matches are also at odds with Wavell Hinds, leader of the West Indies Players’ Association (Wipa) supposedly representing their interests.

A CSA spokesperson said yesterday they were “waiting for a meeting between the players and WICB to take place” before deciding on their plan of action “if required”.

Any threat to the tour is the last thing CSA wants given last season’s similar crisis over the Indian tour here, which was also set to occupy some of the best real estate on the summer roster until the BCCI brutally cut short the proposed itinerary to take away the ever-popular New Year Test at Newlands.

There is some irony in the fact the BCCI is now in dispute with West Indies cricket, after inviting them to play a poignant part in legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar’s swansong last year, which was one reason they slashed the South African safari.

If the current contretemps in Caribbean cricket — no stranger to instability — drags on for weeks and begins to seriously threaten the South African tour, CSA will have a problem trying to fill the void.

International teams fill up their December-January periods well in advance and no obvious alternative incoming tour option seems available to South Africa.

Pakistan and New Zealand are in action against each other in November and December; India are down to tour Australia and the Black Caps are also scheduled to entertain Sri Lanka over the prime holiday period.

England play an ODI-only series of matches in Sri Lanka that is wrapped up by mid-December, making them potentially available — but they are due to have a full tour of South Africa in 2015/16.

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