The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Theft no blot on preparation: WICB

Georgetown: Caribbean officials regret the theft of thousands of dollars in equipment from touring Australian cricketers, but say that doesn’t mean they’re not ready to host the 2007 cricket World Cup.

“No one should doubt our ability to host a good World Cup,” the assistant secretary-general of the Caribbean Community, Edward Greene, said on Monday.

Trinidad’s police and officials of the Caribbean’s BWIA airline are investigating the May 26 theft.

The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) said some players’ bags were tampered with after they were checked at the BWIA counter and that as many as 35 items went missing as the team was flying to Grenada for its last two one-day Internationals against the West Indies.

Australian journalist Trevor Marshallsea wrote that many Australian players were angry about the disappearance of $10,000 worth of gear. Police said they have yet to determine the exact value.

“The already slim hopes that the West Indies will host a smoothly-run World Cup in 2007 have also been further dented. By airline delays, missing baggage and lax crowd control at grounds,” Marshallsea wrote.

The article, which appeared in The Age newspaper of Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald last week, also described Trinidad as “a forgettable place if ever there was one.”

In an interview with the Sunday Sun of Barbados, Marshallsea added: “I think there are going to be a lot of problems with the World Cup here.”

The missing items included bats, pads, shoes, sunglasses and other personal items, BWIA spokesman Clint Williams said. Some bags were missing altogether. “I am very sorry that this has happened because we have a lot of detractors and this only gives them a chance to say negative things about us,” Chetram Singh, the Guyana representative on the Antigua-based West Indies Cricket Board, said on Monday.

Greene called the theft an aberration, but Australian team manager Steve Bernard said that a few small items of the team also disappeared at Trinidad’s airport last month.

Greene urged Trinidadian authorities to properly investigate and make corrections to avoid future problems.

“But don’t write off the entire region,” he said. “There were a lot of positives on the tour, some of which Australian captain Ricky Ponting mentioned on Sunday.” Ponting said that barring a few minor incidents, a particularly friendly atmosphere had prevailed.

The West Indies Cricket Board last year set up an interim committee headed by Jamaican banker Chris Dehring, who has warned governments and cricket organisations about the high standards necessary to pull off the World Cup, including proper grounds, hotels, player and fan security, and crowd control.

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