The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin’s bat tells ICC who is boss

Leeds, Aug. 23: While the cricket fraternity is obsessed with the utterly feudal Player Terms, the Indians, who are the eye of the sport’s latest storm, are allowing the willow to do all the talking.

Yesterday, vice-captain Rahul Dravid scripted a character-oozing hundred. Today, on Day II of the third Test, icon Sachin Tendulkar and captain Sourav Ganguly ignited Headingley with a tornado-like performance. Sachin got past Sir Don Bradman, recording hundred No. 30, while Sourav got his ninth.

At stumps, after an extraordinary day, India were 584 for four. Sachin was unbeaten on 185, while Sourav fell just moments before umpires Dave Orchard and Asoka de Silva decided the light had become unplayable. Earlier, in the 80s, Sourav had turned down the offer of light.

So, without probably intending to, the cricketers have been scoring a point nobody can miss. The icing, really, will be making it 1-1 here. “We are heading in the right direction, but much cricket is still to be played,” is what a distinctly pleased Sourav had to say.

Meanwhile, irrespective of who signs the terms, as set out by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Indians won’t relent till the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has compelled the ICC to “negotiate”. The immediate focus, of course, is on next month’s Champions Trophy in Colombo.

The cricketers aren’t talking of “renegotiating” for the very simple reason that the BCCI didn’t quite negotiate in the first place. In fact, it blindly signed the Events Document (or contract) as early as May 2001. Then, earlier this year, the BCCI agreed to the controversial Participating Nations Agreement (PNA), which includes the terms.

“Belatedly, at least, let the BCCI negotiate and work out something acceptable. The Australians have suggested a template but, then, the conflict of (sponsors) interest doesn’t apply to them right now,” a source close to the players said.

The Australian formula or template, put forward after hours of negotiations between the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), includes resolution of the following: (a) Pre-existing obligations of players that conflict with the ICC’s sponsors; (b) Defining parameters for the use of player-image, which includes an appeal and dispute resolution process.

Apparently, the template has also suggested that a compensation package be evolved for the non-Australians who will be breaching agreements with personal sponsors by signing the terms. Though the ICC has indicated the template could be “used” in discussions with other countries, it has also hinted the compensation must come from the respective boards.

The ACB has already couriered details of the template to the remaining nine Test-playing countries. In India, the documents have been sent to BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah. Confirming receipt, he said: “I haven’t gone through all the details.... In any case, it must first be discussed with the president (Jagmohan Dalmiya)...”

While the Australians have agreed to fall in line, our cricketers are more than keen to know just what the Ricky Pontings actually sign on.

One of the points the Indians made during their collective public statement on Monday was that the terms were only put before them after the NatWest final in mid-July. The blame must rest with the BCCI. After all, according to the ICC, the PNA was sent to the BCCI “late last year”.

The BCCI has much answering to do.

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