Sack "arrogant" cricket officials, says Ian Chappell

Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2002, 20:48 [IST]
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New Delhi: Cricket administrators came under scathing attack on Tuesday for their "ineptitude and arrogance" after India's top players won a decisive battle to protect their commercial rights. Former Australian captain Ian Chappell said the International Cricket Council (ICC) had to take the blame for allowing the month-long row to simmer which at one stage threatened to derail this week's Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka. "The conflict is yet another example of how administrative stuff-ups always lead to trouble for the players," the outspoken Chappell wrote in the 'Hindustan Times'. "At the very least questions should be asked and some heads should roll. It's either a case of ineptitude or arrogance. "Whatever failing the administrators were guilty of, the same sort of performance from a player on the field would lead to his sacking." The acrimonious row was resolved on Monday when the ICC climbed down and agreed to sign special, watered down contracts with the Indians, paving the way for a full- strength side to be sent to the 12-nation event starting in Colombo on Thursday. The original contracts, valid till 2007, prevented cricketers from endorsing rival company products for 30 days either side of ICC events such as the Champions Trophy and the World Cup. ICC's official sponsors would also have been able to use the players' images for up to six months after each event. The new contracts are restricted for just 17 days after the Champions Trophy ends on September 29 with the ICC pledging to take cricketers from around the world in confidence for future agreements. Chappell slammed ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, a fellow Australian, for having asked players to choose between cash or country when the row broke out a month ago. Speed had warned, "If a player has put his commercial interests ahead of his ability to play for the country, he needs to decide what is more important to him: the money or playing for his country." Chappell countered, "It's appropriate to point out that Mr Speed has earned a substantial income and enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in recent times courtesy of the skill and entertainment value of the players, including those he is lecturing to choose between cash and country. "ICC's lucrative sponsorship deals were made possible on the basis of considerable skills of international cricketers and not, as the ICC would have us believe, its brilliant negotiations." The ICC will meet soon after the Champions Trophy to thrash out new contracts for next year's World Cup in South Africa. The world governing body had inserted the 'ambush marketing' clause in the contracts to protect its sponsors who had shelled out $ 550 million for three Champions Trophy and two World Cup events till 2007. Cricket's most famous case of "ambush marketing" came during the 1996 World Cup when soft-drink major Pespi overshadowed the tournament's official sponsors Coca Cola by signing up the world's top cricketers in its "nothing official about it" campaign.

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