West Indies Board issues apology as England bask in the sunshine

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The Independent Online

The West Indies have taken the unprecedented step of apologising to the cricketing public of the Caribbean following their humiliating 10-wicket defeat to England. After watching their side being dismissed for 47 runs - their lowest total in Test matches - the home supporters booed Brian Lara and his team when they came out to defend the 20 runs England required for victory.

The West Indies have taken the unprecedented step of apologising to the cricketing public of the Caribbean following their humiliating 10-wicket defeat to England. After watching their side being dismissed for 47 runs - their lowest total in Test matches - the home supporters booed Brian Lara and his team when they came out to defend the 20 runs England required for victory.

The reaction of the crowd at Sabina Park on Sunday and the behaviour of four members of the losing team, who were seen partying at the ground only hours after this shocking defeat, will have hastened the need for Lara's team to make a statement. The West Indies will be hoping that this gesture will pacify their excitable supporters and keep them behind the home side throughout the remaining three Test matches of this series.

The apology came via a press release and stated that the team wished to "sincerely apologise to the West Indies public for the shocking performance on the fourth day of the Test match. The team further apologises for the inappropriate conduct of four members of the team who were seen in a party stand at Sabina Park following the loss".

Ramnaresh Sarwan, the West Indies vice-captain, Chris Gayle, Tino Best and Adam Sanford are the four players who were allegedly seen on the Mound ­ a densely populated and noisy grass bank at the Blue Mountains End of the ground, with its own beach and swimming pool.

This matter is being looked into by Ricky Skerritt, the West Indies team manager, who was scathing in his criticism of the players' insensitive behaviour. "I am disgusted at the thoughtlessness and shamelessness displayed by these players following such a horrific performance," he said. Following an investigation, Skerritt stated that "the players will be dealt with appropriately".

Criticisms have been made of the standard of behaviour in the West Indies team for some time, and this incident will not have helped the cause of the captain and the coach, Gus Logie. "We will continue to ask the players for a higher level of discipline and a higher level of commitment to themselves and West Indies cricket," said Logie.

Lara, the captain, also attempted to stress that his team were working hard and are committed to winning the series. "The result of the first Test does not give a true reflection of our team's preparation for the match," he said. "We as a team will continue to work diligently towards the betterment of West Indies cricket. The team shares the pain caused by the defeat and will be doubling its efforts towards achieving success in this series."

"What we need to do now is regroup as a team and get the focus back which I thought we had before the start of the series. We realise this is a one-off situation. We faltered badly here but we have to look forward. Focusing too much on what happened here can only hamper us in the next few days."

Following the events of Sunday the comments of the teams could not be further apart. West Indies are understandably on the defensive and are attempting to convince their supporters that they are a disciplined and hard-working side.

Meanwhile England are enjoying every moment of their unexpected success. Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, was full of praise for his team and felt that this victory was the result of the training his players have been doing throughout the winter.

"In all sports you have great players," Fletcher said. "But all great players put in a lot of work. These players realise that sport is not just a game you play and then go home. If you put a lot of effort in, you get results and this is what Steve [Harmison], and a few of the other players have realised."

This work started in Bangladesh before Christmas when Michael Vaughan, the England captain, and Fletcher put their squad through a vigorous schedule of fitness and weight training. Fletcher believes that the combination of these sessions and good cricket practice will continue to be beneficial to his players, as individuals and as a team.

England's next challenge will start on Friday in the second Test in Trinidad. "Our victory has given us an advantage," Fletcher said. "The confidence of the bowlers must be high, as should be the batsmen. They showed a lot of character. Mark Butcher took a battering in this game and was pretty bruised. If we had lost after taking that, it would have been hard. But winning has given us a huge advantage."

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