Tourists escape Busta Cup row

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The Independent Online

With the West Indies having already lost the Wisden Trophy, after 27 years, during the summer, the prospect of another England team pinching their domestic first-class championship title next season has proved too damaging to contemplate.

With the West Indies having already lost the Wisden Trophy, after 27 years, during the summer, the prospect of another England team pinching their domestic first-class championship title next season has proved too damaging to contemplate.

So England A will not, after all, compete for the Busta Cup next year, the West Indies Cricket Board announced yesterday, but for the Busta International Series instead.

England A, to be led by the Gloucestershire captain Mark Alleyne, will still participate fully in the tournament that runs from 5 January to 5 March. But the Busta Cup will remain the preserve of the six West Indian territories - Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and the Windward Islands - to be decided on points gained against each other in preliminary-round matches.

Points in all matches will lead to the Busta Series semi-finals and final for the Busta Shield for which England A and an eighth team, West Indies B, will be eligible. England A start their campaign against West Indies B in Grenada from 5 to 8 January.

The WICB had originally announced that England would compete for the Busta Cup proper, claiming that it would "heighten the competitiveness and effort of national teams".

"Which team wins the Busta Cup is of limited importance compared to the priority of creating a stronger West Indies," the WICB proclaimed. It was a sentiment that drew strong and immediate criticism from players, public and press as well as from the WICB's affiliates.

"We are definitely against it and we objected to it," Jackie Hendriks, the former Test wicketkeeper who heads the Jamaica Cricket Board, said. "It is an insult to our cricket, it should not happen and I hope it will not happen."

The bone of contention was not so much the entry of England A as much as the possibility that they would leave West Indies cricket without a West Indian champion.

The WICB has still managed to give the Busta Shield overall priority over the Busta Cup, assigning $10,000 (£6,945) to the overall champions and $7,000 to the West Indies champions. A West Indian territorial team can win both, England A and West Indies B qualify only for the Busta Shield.

ENGLAND A MATCHES Preliminary round: 5-8 Jan v West Indies B (Grenada); 12-15 Jan v Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad); 19-22 Jan v Guyana (Grenada); 26-29 Jan v Barbados (Barbados); 2-5 Feb v Jamaica (Jamaica); 9-12 Feb v Windward Islands (Windwards); 16-19 Feb v Leeward Islands (Leewards). Semi-finals: 22-25 Feb. Final: 2-5 March.

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