Dubai, Feb 12: Viv Richards has thrown his considerable support behind the West Indies squad who are locked in a bitter pay dispute which is threatening their participation in the World Twenty20. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) could be forced to send a second string to the prestigious tournament in India next month if the 15-man squad refuse to sign contracts before Sunday’s deadline.(Also Read: Contract crisis rocks West Indies ahead of World T20)

“In these modern times individuals know exactly what is their worth and when you have a tournament with Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy, all these are great Twenty20 players,” Richards told AFP. Sammy, the captain of the team and the man who led the West Indies to the 2012 World Twenty20 title, earlier this week wrote to the WICB asking them to reconsider what he described as an 80 per cent pay cut in players’ fees for the tournament.

It is the latest in a series of disputes between the players and the WICB — in October 2014, the team abandoned their tour of India in another row over money. Richards said that players should be given contracts much more in advance. “What I believe is that sometimes the problem is that the board gives contracts too late and may be that doesn’t give the players time to digest what is good and what is not good and they ask them to sign that immediately,” he claimed.

West Indies great Richards said it will be a significant loss if a second-string team is sent to the World Twenty20, to be staged from March 8-April 3. “I am hoping common sense prevails, if everyone comes to a mutual understanding then I think it will be okay. The World Twenty20 would miss all these guys.”