~~Contract row far from over, World Cup issues remain~~

Published: Thursday, September 12, 2002, 17:21 [IST]
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Colombo: The sponsorship issue involving players and administrators is not yet over despite the participation of the best teams in the Champions Trophy here, the game's world governing body chief said on Wednesday. "We're delighted that all the countries have sent their best teams here but more work has to be done regarding the World Cup (in South Africa next year), particularly with the players," said International Cricket Council president Malcolm Gray.Gray said he was pleased with the solution that resulted in the participation of a full-strength Indian squad for the 12-nation Limited Overs tournament, starting on Thursday. Indian players initially objected to the contract, which prohibited them from endorsing products clashing with the interests of official sponsors of the Champions Trophy and the World Cup for 30 days before and after the events. An agreement between the Indian players and officials was reached when the sport's world governing body decided to reduce the number of days from 30 to 16. India was the last country to sign the agreement, picking the squad just three days before the tournament. "The aim was to get the current event (Champions Trophy) going," ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed told reporters during a joint press conference. "We're delighted India has sent its best squad. After this event, we'll sit together and discuss. It's not a priority now. "All the teams have signed the same document, except one amendment. The block-out period has been reduced from 30 days to 16 for Indian players. Otherwise, it's the same," Speed said. Gray said he now was looking forward to having a great tournament in which the technology will be used more to reduce the umpiring errors. The on-field umpires have been given an option to consult the TV umpire before giving leg-before and bat- pad verdicts. "It's only a trial," Speed said. "If it works we'll consider it further. If it doesn't, we'll think of a change. We don't want to take away the umpires' power or slow down the game." When asked whether the World Cup matches would be held in Zimbabwe despite a political turmoil in the country, the ICC president said it was too early to say anything. "It's not for the ICC to make political judgements," Gray said. "It's up to the governments. But cricket should be played wherever it's possible. The players' security is a priority. An ICC advisory committee will go to Zimbabwe late this year and submit its report." Gray also said proper security steps had been taken to ensure the Champions Trophy tournament progressed in a clean way. "The anti-corruption unit is here in full force," said Gray. "Only two years ago we were in despair (because of match-fixing scandal). Now I think we've eradicated the problem, but we must not let-up."

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