London, Sep 13: In what has become a nightmare of a tour, the Indian cricket team found itself at the centre of a fresh controversy by skipping the ICC Annual Awards despite having a few of its top players in the list of nominees.
The team claimed that the invite for the function came late but the ICC insisted that the BCCI and the visiting side had been informed well in advance.
The Indians, whitewashed 0-4 in the Tests and trailing 0-2 in the ODIs against England, were interestingly staying at a hotel close to the venue of the function held last night.
Indian team manager Shivlal Yadav expressed his helplessness, stating he was informed only at 12 noon by an ICC communication officer by which time 'the players were already away, some shopping, some sight-seeing as this was their final day of stay in London'.
The clarification from the ICC was that a mail to this effect had already been sent to the BCCI, much in advance on August 26.
"The Indian team management had been invited to attend tonight and they were invited some weeks ago. Those who were nominated for awards have known it since 26th of August, in Canterbury, when the short-listed names for the awards were announced," said ICC's Head of Communications Colin Gibson.
The ICC sources said they have evidence by mail which confirms that the BCCI was aware of the function and had also agreed that the Indian team would attend it.
"If it wasn't so, the Indian team ought to have left for Cardiff (the venue of the final one-dayer) today itself and not stayed back in London on Monday," said an ICC spokesman.
"The fact that their schedule included a stay in London on Monday confirms they were in know of it. I don't know whether the team was advised to attend it. They had been invited some weeks ago, end of August. The whole team was invited on August 26," the spokesman added.
Rajiv Shukla, a senior functionary of the BCCI who attended the function, wasn't aware that the Indian team wouldn't be turning up for the function.
"I thought those who have been nominated would be attending the function," said Shukla.
"It is the prerogative of the players whether to attend the function or not," he added.
The Indian players' decision to skip the function has triggered off speculation on the exact reason for the absence, with one interpretation being that it was a fallout of the BCCI's cold war with ICC President Sharad Pawar.
There was another speculation that the Indians were unhappy with the treatment meted out to them during the tour of England though there was no official word from the team management.
Sources said that a communication breakdown between the BCCI and the touring team could be the reason behind the Indian players' no show.
"Since there was no formal instruction from the BCCI to attend the function, the players probably thought that it was not necessary to attend it," the source said.
An ICC Spokesman said, "we can only tell you that the date and the venue were finalised long back and the BCCI was always in the loop."
"The Indian team was invited through the BCCI well in advance," the spokesman said.