Cricket: W Indies deny new reports of pay rift

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CLIVE LLOYD, the West Indies team manager, faced with claims of a rift in his tour party in South Africa, said that they are united in an attempt to overcome their wretched form.

Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper reported this week that some of the squad's more junior players were unhappy about a new salary scale agreed by the players after a pre-tour dispute over pay and conditions with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

It was agreed during crisis talks with the WICB in London that players who had appeared in a certain number of Tests would be paid more than less experienced team-mates.

"The problem [relating to defeats in the first two test matches against South Africa] has nothing to do with cricket," the Gleaner quoted an unnamed player as saying. "It is the way things are going. There is no team spirit. Some of the players and the captain are hardly on speaking terms."

Other players contacted were unwilling to discuss the matter on or off the record.

Lloyd was adamant the squad were united in their quest to come back from their 2-0 series deficit in the remaining three Tests. "There is no rift in the team," he said. "We know we have played badly and lost two Test matches, but there is no division in the squad."

West Indian spirits will have been lifted by their first win of the tour, by eight wickets over a Natal XI at Chatsworth on Wednesday, and by opener Philo Wallace's on-going recovery from glandular fever.

"The fever has dropped from the constant 40 degrees of the past three days and I'm feeling a lot better," Wallace said.

Wallace hopes to be fit for the four-day match against South Africa's A team starting in Pietermaritzburg tomorrow.