Board blow to Haynes' return

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TONY COZIER reports from Bridgetown, Barbados As the West Indies arrived in New Zealand yesterday for the second of four Test series in which they are engaged in the space of 10 months, their leading all-rounder, Carl Hooper, was under observation in a hospital in Kent for a viral infection. Richie Richardson and Ian Bishop, meanwhile, were making heartening returns to the game in the domestic season after lengthy lay offs and opener Desmond Haynes' belated bid to regain the Test place that was his as of right for 16 years was being thwarted by a r igid regulation.

Hooper, who lives in Kent for whom he plays in the County Championship, was undergoing tests that will allow a more specific diagnosis of his illness. He was running a temperature and friends reported he was very low. The West Indies Board said it hoped his condition would improve so he could join the team next week for the three one-day internationals and one Test but an unidentified replacement was put on stand by.

Richardson, who had led the West Indies in 15 Tests since 1991, quit his county contract with Yorkshire in the middle of last season when doctors diagnosed "acute fatigue syndrome" and ordered him to rest for six months. In his first first-class match since last July he hit 86 in a losing cause for the defending champions, Leeward Islands, against Trinidad and Tobago in the Red Stripe Cup.

Fast bowler Bishop, returning after nearly two years' absence because of a stress fracture in his back, took 4 for 34 to lead Trinidad and Tobago to victory.

Once fit, both are bound to be included in the series against Australia - between 6 March and 3 May - but Haynes, the West Indies' most experienced player with 116 Tests since 1978, learned he would not.

He missed the tour of India late last year to play for Western Province in South Africa instead. Anxious to regain his Test place he suddenly broke off that contract and returned home yesterday to play for Barbados in the Red Stripe tournament. But he was too late for the first match and the board refused his plea for dispensation from a regulation obliging all players, except those on international duty or injured, to play all five Cup matches to qualify for selection against Australia.

n Kim Barnett will step down as captain of Derbyshire at the end of next season.