Star wars puts the windies up ponting

CRICKET: Ricky Ponting is worried about the prospect of a Test series against an under-strength West Indies next summer, The Australians' opening pool game of the Champions Trophy is against a Windies line-up severely weakened by a contract dispute, which will give the world champions a look at what side could arrive in November.

The likes of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo are currently missing from the West Indies side because they are at loggerheads with their board over contract and pay issues.

In their absence, the West Indies lost a home Test series to minnow Bangladesh two months ago and are led by Floyd Reifer, a 37-year-old journeyman drafted by the board to lead a side of no names and has-beens.

Ponting said Australia would treat Reifer's side with respect at the Wanderers on Saturday, but feared for the summer's three-Test series if the contract dispute was not resolved.

“I must admit I am a little bit concerned with the Australian summer and how that's going to pan out,” he told a media conference yesterday.

“We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope the number one and full strength West Indian side makes the journey to Australia.

The West Indies board has ordered their stars to play in a domestic limited overs tournament in Guyana in October to be eligible for selection for the tour of Australia.

If the West Indies' best do not show, Cricket Australia will be left with a marketing disaster and the integrity of Test cricket could be brought into question if mismatches occur.



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