Kolkata: A breakthrough into the controversial contract issue, which has put the Board of Control for Cricket for India (BCCI) in a fix, is likely to be made in the next two days, even as the BCCI has put its senior selection committee on alert for meeting any exigency.
''A breakthrough may be possible even on Sunday, or Monday. But definitely something is expected within the next two days,'' informed sources said.The sources said master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who is likely to be the worst affected by ICC's new 'players' terms', which come into effect from the Champions Trophy beginning in Sri Lanka from September 12, was having talks with his personal sponsors. ''Once Sachin makes up his mind the matter will be sorted out. Other players don't have that much of a problem,'' the sources said.
Top Indian cricketers - now in England - have so far been reluctant to sign the forms, which bar them from endorsing any product potentially in conflict with the interests of official sponsors, one month either side of ICC tournaments. Skipper Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and the young Virender Sehwag are the other players likely to be most affected by the agreement. On its part, the BCCI has adopted a patient approach, allowing the players sufficient time to ponder over the issue, the sources said.
BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, who has been engaged in round-the-clock negotiations to resolve the issue, which has threatened to jeopardise the Sri Lanka tourney, however, continued to remain tight-lipped. In order to ensure participation of the top stars in the tournament, the Board has asked the players to sign the contract for the upcoming event only, promising to sort out the matter with the game's governing body at a later stage. The sources said that the BCCI's decision to alert its quintet of selectors for a meeting at short notice was more of a defence mechanism to be put into effect if suddenly things went wrong.
''The BCCI has a commitment to send a team to Sri Lanka and it has to keep it. Moreover, there is not much time left,'' they said. Dalmiya had earlier written a letter to the team saying that the situation could go beyond redemption if the players did not sign the contract now for the Champions trophy. BCCI has told the players that should they sign the 'players' terms' form, it would inform ICC that the assurances and agreements are extended only for the Champions Trophy and it would take up the matter with the apex body by October 31.
BCCI has argued that since it is bound by the contractual obligation to send its best team to Sri Lanka, it has very little breathing space now. All the affiliated Boards have signed the agreement, which lasts till 2007. After initially rejecting BCCI's request, the players have sought more time to reconsider their decision following a request from coach John Wright. Although the deadline for signing the Participating Nations Agreement for the Colombo meet has expired, cricketers from Australia, England, Sri Lanka and South Africa apart from India have not yet signed on the dotted lines but ICC expected the issue to be resolved by next week.