The Royal Gazette mastheadLess than a week before the national team depart for their tour of Africa, Bermuda Cricket Board are still refusing to comment on the ongoing contractual wrangling which has cast a large shadow over the team's preparations.

Repeated requests by The Royal Gazette for disclosure on the current status of the negotiations with the disaffected players have been met with a wall of silence from the Board.

And it is also still not clear if the Board's investigation into 'discrepancies' in the salary compensation claim made by all-rounder Lionel Cann - first revealed in this newspaper last week - is likely to reach a conclusion before the squad fly to Kenya next Tuesday.

Cann, still recovering from surgery, wasn't expected to make the trip to Kenya but had been pencilled into join the squad for later matches in South Africa.

When the decision was taken in August to make at least 14 players full-time with seven months remaining before the World Cup, each player was asked to provide the Board with details of their salary.

Once that information had been verified with the various employers, the deal was that the Board would then pay the players a monthly salary equivalent to what they earned at their normal jobs - not including additional pay such as match fees, win bonuses and daily stipends while on tour.

Cann is a janitor at Saltus Grammar School but also claimed to be working for a small construction company. But when the BCB checked to see if this was the case, they were initially told that he had not been employed at the construction company for quite some time - a discovery which prompted them to summon the Southampton Rangers player to a meeting last week to explain the situation.

Since that meeting, however, the BCB have repeatedly declined to shed any further light on the issue - with chief executive Neil Speight stating on two occasions that the matter is between the player and the Board and not for public consumption.

On the subject of the contract negotiations, meanwhile, Speight said two weeks ago that he believed the players were 'very close' to agreeing terms with the Board - only for them to reject the latest offer last week.