Can anyone enlighten us on what is really happening?

Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2002, 18:44 [IST]
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Bangalore: Bigwigs of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) - including president Jagmohan Dalmiya and secretary Niranjan Shah please give us a break. The sponsorship imbroglio with the players has been confusion worst confounded for the media with the BCCI holding high profile confabulations in a five-star hotel.

The end result, the players stick to their stand - and even throw down the gauntlet of asking the BCCI to send a second string team to the Champions Trophy at Sri Lanka, the ICC insists on cricketers signing the contract and the BCCI hums and haws about new probables, discussions are open and we'll definitely participate in the Champions Trophy.

Dear Mr Dalmiya, there was never any doubt that India wouldn't participate in the Champions Trophy. The issue was whether the Indian top stars would abide by the ICC/ BCCI diktats and what would be the consequences if they said no. One thing that is now certain is that the players have said a definite "no", but beyond that it is a stalemate as ever.

For two days the media has been waiting for some concrete decisions and action from the BCCI and both the days the much hyped up press conference has turned out to be a damp squib. The theme of both the days has been the same. The only new twist to the drama on Wednesday was Dalmiya admitting that the "doors were still open" for the senior Indian players.

While the general impression from some of the BCCI officials was that the Board wouldn't tolerate any further dissent from the players and go ahead with a second string team, Dalmiya merely stated that 25 probables had been selected and they would be contacted individually to sign the ICC players' term.

Earlier reports had said that 20 probables and a few standbys had been short-listed by the BCCI, which the Board didn't want to announce for fear of the new players being influenced by the current squad from England against signing the contract.

In the midst of all comes news that the ICC at the request of BCCI has tone down its rhetoric and stated that the contract is now envisaged only for the Champions Trophy and doesn't go beyond that. This against what had earlier been perceived as a contract agreement till the 2007 World Cup for which the ICC has signed the sponsorship deal with Global Cricket Corporation.

While so much of noise has been made in India, there is hardly a whimper from the remaining nine Test playing nations. Expect for the news that the Australians, South Africans, West Indians and now the English players are against the contract, there is hardly any word about what their respective Boards are going to do.

To top it all, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed is in India in what has been dubbed as a "purely personal visit planned three months ago". But, both, Dalmiya and Speed have stated that they are in touch with each other.

Can anybody enlighten us what is really happening in the cricketing world? Where do the Indians (Board and players stand) vis-À-vis the ICC players' contract? Are the Indian players isolated on this issue? Are other Boards waiting to see who will bell the cat? Is the BCCI waiting for a "change of heart" as Dalmiya hoped on TV channels? Will the ICC tournaments get "ambushed" by its very own "ambush marketing protection"?

And now at the end of the day thus spake BCCI: "On the second day of its meeting, the working committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided that the Board should interact directly with the current players on the issue pertaining to sponsorships of ICC events and players' endorsements, instead of any intermediary. The working committee ratified all the actions taken by the president, BCCI in the matter so far and authorised him to take necessary actions in the matter as would be deemed appropriate in the best interest of Indian cricket."

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