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A meaningless tournament

Neither team wants a Wayne Rooney scenario, but who will be held responsible if it crops up? asks VIVIAN RICHARDS

Call me an old-fashioned guy, but I just cannot understand why West Indies should be travelling all the way to India to play a four-match series, so perilously close to the World Cup.

We are calling it preparation for the big tournament, but I feel that Brian Lara and his men would have been better off preparing at home, both physically and mentally. This World Cup means a lot to the West Indies, and as hosts we expect our players to give a good account of themselves.

A creditable performance in the tournament might usher in a resurgence of interest for the game in the islands, and that would be wonderful for world cricket. Sadly, none of this seems to have registered on the West Indian administration.

Instead, both teams are exposing their key players to a gruelling week or 10 days, where they could get hurt. Neither team wants a Wayne Rooney scenario, but who will be held responsible if it crops up?

The West Indian players were involved in yet another standoff about remuneration at the start of the tour. I am not aware of the details of what transpired between the players and the West Indies Cricket Board, but I think the players have a point this time.

Firstly, I guess the board is making their players undertake this trip for monetary considerations — I see no other reason for this series — and the players have a right to a share of the money made by the board. Secondly, the players are aware that they have been put in a dangerous position, and are justified in demanding a fee that acknowledges the risk factor. Clearly, the West Indies Cricket Board has a lot to answer for.

The Indians too could have done with some rest. Instead, they will be playing two meaningless series, with the second one ending just weeks ahead of the World Cup. If either of these teams is still looking for the right combination, what were they doing over the last six months?

For me, the outcome of this series is pretty clear — there will be no winners.

The best situation will see players of both teams a little more jaded than they were, and the worse situation will see an injury happening. I really don't like the look of what is happening here.

Big call

The Indians have taken a big call by omitting Virender Sehwag from their side. I, however, do not see anything wrong in that.

Sehwag has been around for sometime, and if the selection committee thinks he is not shouldering as much responsibility as he should, perhaps it's a good thing for him to go back to the drawing board and re-assess his game.

They have drafted in a couple of newcomers in the side, but only time will tell whether they plan to take any newcomers to the World Cup.

The West Indians have had a good run against the Indians of late, and hopefully they will continue that streak. If they don't, I would not be particularly worried.

These games seem designed to fill the kitty of the WICB. Quite evidently results and score lines are incidental.

Gameplan

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