Indian players agree to partly fulfil ICC contract

Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2002, 18:05 [IST]
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New Delhi: World cricket chiefs were left walking a tightrope on Wednesday after India's top players offered to play in next month's Champions Trophy without signing sponsorship agreements. Saurav Ganguly's and his team members, currently touring England, said they would take part in the Limited Overs tournament in Sri Lanka from September 12 to 30 and even urge their personal sponsors to put advertisement campaigns on hold during that period.But the players stress they will not sign the International Cricket Council (ICC) pact prohibiting them from advertising for companies which are rivals of official sponsors for events, such as the Champions Trophy and the World Cup, during and one month before and after the event. The ICC, however, is equally adamant that only those cricketers who sign the agreement in its totality by Friday can take part in the Champions Trophy. India and Sri Lanka are the only teams that have not signed the contract, with the Sri Lankans demanding 30 percent of the revenue earned by their board from the ICC as compensation. The latest offer from the India's star players, including batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, has caught the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India in a bind. BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya concedes the ICC contract does not suit Indian players and wants the world body to reconsider its stand at the emergency meeting of its executive board in Dubai on Saturday. But he needs to sort out the matter with his own players before the Friday deadline, otherwise India may be forced to field a second-string team at the 12-nation event regarded as a mini World Cup. Even that is not acceptable to the ICC, which insists that all nations send their best players to the tournament. "Dalmiya is caught in a muddle and it will need all his famed negotiating skills to get out of it," former BCCI chief Raj Singh Dungarpur said. "I don't envy his position. But someone will have to be very flexible to sort the mess." Ravi Shastri, a former Test captain and television commentator, who has been nominated by the Indian players as their spokesman, said the ball was now in the BCCI's court. "The players have decided in the interest of the game to back off for the period of 18 days during the Champions Trophy and will speak to their sponsors about it," Shastri told reporters in England. "But the players are adamant they will not sign anything with the ICC and will not agree to any other concessions." Dalmiya was himself in no mood to give ground - either to the players or the ICC. "I am speaking to captain Saurav Ganguly directly, why should we deal with a former player like Shastri," Dalmiya was quoted as saying. "But I don't think we will be able to keep the Friday deadline. I want the ICC executive board to hear me out on Saturday before taking any further steps." Dalmiya, however, received little support from the world governing body he himself headed till last year. An ICC statement released on Tuesday night asked all boards to "confirm their players have signed the Player Terms and that they will be sending their best team to Sri Lanka for the tournament". "It is now important that countries conclude their negotiations ahead of the executive board meeting in Dubai on Saturday," the statement said. "Countries have previously given written undertakings to the ICC that they will obtain the agreement of their players to the Player Terms. "The ICC executive board will be looking to each Board to confirm that it has met this obligation at its meeting on Saturday."

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