New Delhi: India's embattled cricket chiefs on Friday received unexpected support from the sport's world governing body as the sponsorship row headed towards a weekend climax.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) agreed to India's request to put off Friday's deadline for naming the Champions Trophy squad till its views had been heard at the ICC's executive board meeting in Dubai on Saturday and Sunday. India is the only one among the 12 nations taking part in next month's Limited Overs tournament in Sri Lanka not to have finalised the squad after its top players refused to sign the controversial sponsorship agreement. The players say they do not accept the clause which prohibits them from endorsing products that clash with the interests of official sponsors of the ICC's Champions Trophy and the World Cup for 30 days before and after the events. "The ICC understood it was not possible for us to name our team till the players' views had been heard," said a senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). "We have been given time till after BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya takes up the matter at the ICC's executive board meeting." The ICC, headed by Australia's Malcolm Gray, will hear the compromise formula put forward by the Indian players currently touring England. The Indians have offered to play in the Champions Trophy "for the sake of cricket" without signing the sponsorship agreement. They said they will urge their personal sponsors not to advertise during the course of the 18-day tournament. India's star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, regarded as the richest cricketer in the world with personal endorsements worth an estimated $ 20 million, defended the players' stand. "I am not the only person suffering," Tendulkar told an Indian English daily in Derbyshire where the tourists are playing a three-day match. "It is a question of the team and also the future of other players. We have all had many discussions on the subject and are still open to talks." Dalmiya will place before the ICC's executive board a letter sent to the BCCI by captain Saurav Ganguly and signed by the entire team. "With reference to the various discussions that we have been having in the past, let us reiterate that we are committed to play for our country," Ganguly's letter said. "However, we find ourselves in a situation where the 'player terms' that we are asked to sign at this late stage commercially affects us and has resulted in a situation brought about without consultation and with which we have serious issues." The letter again stressed the players' desire to play in the Champions Trophy without agreeing to the relevant sponsorship clauses. "We would be willing, only with regard to the Champions Trophy 2002, to request our sponsors (competitive to the sponsors of the event) not to air any advertisements or publish any campaigns in newsprint for the period that the tournament is being played from September 12 to September 30," it stated. BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said India was committed to playing in the tournament even if it was forced to send a second-string team. "I can't say whether the ICC will accept a second-string team," Shah said from Dubai. "People must not forget that India is a major market. Eighty per cent of the money in cricket comes from Indian sponsors, who might want some of their money back if India's best do not play ICC tournaments."
Deadlock continues, BCCI gearing up for 2nd string