County future in doubt for West Indians

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The Independent Online
Twenty leading West Indian players have been offered one-year contracts which might prevent their future involvement in English county cricket.

Steve Camacho, the chief executive of the West Indies Board of Control, said: "These contracts will ensure they remain at home to help raise the standard of club cricket, and to coach."

Among those offered contracts are Courtney Walsh and Carl Hooper, who are expected to return to play for Gloucestershire and Kent respectively next season. Philip August, the Gloucestershire chief executive, said yesterday: "The West Indies Board would like to put certain players on a one-year contract but nobody will be forced to sign. And if some players decide to return to county cricket they will certainly not be penalised by the West Indies authorities."

Walsh has not signed his two-year offer from Gloucestershire but the two parties have shaken on the deal. Hooper is in the middle of a two- year contract at Canterbury.

Australia and India fear their one-off Test starting today in New Delhi will not last five days. The pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium is very worn and spinners are expected to dominate the game for the newly instituted Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

"This is the driest wicket I've seen even on the sub-continent. Winning the toss on this pitch will be a big advantage and I hope the pitch lasts five days," Mark Taylor, the Australian captain, said. His opposite number, Sachin Tendulkar, said: "The wicket is extremely dry and I too will elect to bat if I win the toss."