Death threat for Lara mars Hinds century

West Indies 347-3
v South Africa

Brian Lara and six other suspended cricketers have received death threats over a contract dispute with the national board, the West Indies Players Association claimed last night.

Brian Lara and six other suspended cricketers have received death threats over their contract dispute with the national board, the West Indies Players Association claimed last night.

While the West Indies had a wonderful day on the field, amassing 347 for 3 by the close of the first day of the first Test against South Africa in Guyana, it was more gloom behind the scenes. The president of WIPA, Dinanath Ramnarine, said the players, "face overwhelming pressure including death threats, and threats from the WICB [West Indies Cricket Board] never to play again, threats and intimidation from sponsors, and pressure from the highest political levels within the length and breadth of the Caribbean community".

He said the dispute, which barred the seven players from playing yesterday, had made the WICB "tyrannical and despotic". The board "has suspended its discretion, jettisoned all reasoning, and is hell-bent at all costs to do the bidding of its sponsor. In fact, the board was prepared to sacrifice West Indies cricket and the development of a successful team on the altar of commercial expediency," Ramnarine added.

The dispute centres around the personal endorsement contracts the seven players have with Cable & Wireless, a direct competitor of the board's main sponsor, Digicel.

Lara was actually cleared to play in yesterday's Test on the grounds that his original contract was signed with the board's consent and before its deal with Digicel, but the former captain declined as a sign of solidarity with the other players.

Here in Guyana, Wavell Hinds and Shivnarine Chanderpaul both struck centuries and shared in a record partnership to put West Indies in control. The pair put on 241 for the unbroken fourth wicket, a record against South Africa.

Hinds was unbeaten on a career-best 188, his fifth Test century, while Chanderpaul was 102 not out, his 12th century.

The South Africa fast bowler Andre Nel, with 3 for 50, was the tourists' only successful bowler. The West Indies had been struggling on 24 for 2 after the dismissals of Devon Smith for 11 and Daren Ganga for a duck. But Hinds and Chanderpaul counter-attacked in wonderful fashion to win the day.

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