Brisbane: The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) on Wednesday was unable to guarantee a full-strength Australian team would play in next month's Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.
ACB chief executive James Sutherland and Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief executive Tim May met members of the national One-day squad on Wednesday to thrash out concerns over International Cricket Council (ICC) player contracts, which have created a storm of protest in the cricket world. The ICC wants players to sign contracts preventing them from promoting their individual sponsors for 30 days either side of next February's World Cup in South Africa. The ICC's new deal with Global Cricket Corporation is conditional on countries sending their full-strength sides. Indian officials, refusing to bow to the players' power, on Wednesday included none of the cricketers currently touring England among the 25 probables for the Limited Overs tournament starting at Colombo on September 12, a top official said. England players have reportedly joined a rapidly spreading boycott of the ICC Trophy. Sutherland said discussions were heading in the right direction. But he could not rule out Australia sending an under-strength team to Sri Lanka if some players baulked at signing the ICC contracts. "Ultimately, that could be a possibility," admitted Sutherland, who said the players who leave for a triangular series in Kenya on Monday had not been given any deadline to sign. "Right now our concern is dealing with the squad of players selected and to work through the issue with them. What we need to do under the ICC agreement is deliver the best possible team and what we are trying to do now is work with the ACA and our players to reach a situation that they are comfortable about their rights and their rights in regard to the event and surrounding events." May said it was impossible to speculate on what to players may decide. "We haven't put any deadlines on them," he said. "They got a lot of new information tonight about what the ACB and ACA have been negotiating over the last week or so and we want the players to have the appropriate time to consider and digest that information. "It's too early to speculate on the outcome. They received a lot of information to consider and there is a lot at stake for the players who need time to do that." Sutherland admitted the players could fly out for Nairobi on Monday without signing the ICC contracts. "They could, but it's not an ideal situation," he said. "We continue to be hopeful we will resolve it before the players leave." The ACB is yet to sign a contract to contest the Champions Trophy and Sutherland said they wouldn't until the players had made their decision. Earlier, One-day captain Ricky Ponting was unable to rule out Australian players boycotting future international tournaments because of controversial sponsorship contracts being forced upon them. And he admitted to being stumped as to how players or the ACB could get around the ICC sponsorship contracts, which have been rejected by leading players around the world. "We can sit down and talk about it, but there's really not much we can do about it," Ponting said. Asked if that meant the ICC had to change its contract, Ponting said, "I don't think that's going to happen either. "I don't think there's any right answer to this whole thing... if there had been, I'm sure it would have been resolved by now." While Ponting was prepared to go into bat for his players over their right to have individual sponsors, he was not keen on the idea of player boycotts. "I don't think any of the (Australian) players want a boycott, that's not what we are all about," he said.
ICC asks players to retract from stubborn stand
Can anyone enlighten us on what is really happening?