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Board, ICC on collision course
- Council move to claim damages for concessions deepens crisis

London, Sept. 5: What began as an indirect face-off between the Indian players and the International Cricket Council is growing towards a full-scale war between the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Indeed, late tonight, BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya went public with strong misgivings over the ICC move to claim “damages” for concessions being offered to Indian cricketers on the Player Terms issue.

According to ICC president Malcolm Gray, the damages will be sought even if the BCCI eventually chooses to send a second-string for the September 12-30 Champions Trophy in Colombo. One estimate has put that amount between $10-26 million — enough to cripple the BCCI, if not reduce it to absolute bankruptcy. (See Sport)

Faced with this latest (and most damaging) twist in the terms controversy, an emergent meeting of the BCCI’s working committee has been called in Delhi on Saturday.

Till Dalmiya went ballistic — and despite Gray’s “intriguing” letter this morning — everything pointed towards Indian cricketers officially being granted “concessions” during the Champions Trophy.

In fact, a well-placed source within the ICC went to the extent of saying “a deal would be formally struck” tonight itself. The concessions relate to the controversial terms, with the stipulation of no conflicting endorsements till 30 days after the final being “scaled down”.

One understands “an agreement in principle” had already been reached. Similar concessions, though, will not be offered to other teams. In any case, none of the 11 remaining participating nations has had a problem on India’s scale.

However, as the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), which holds the marketing/telecast rights for ICC events till the 2007 World Cup, would surely demand “compensation”, the issue was to be placed before the ICC’s next executive board meeting, in Colombo itself, after the Champions Trophy.

Gray’s communication, though, has soured things. Now, the damages/compensation bit has upstaged the terms row.

Incredibly, with exactly a week left for the Champions Trophy, the ICC today acknowledged that cancelling the event was one option. This was conveyed in Gray’s letter.

He went to the extent of listing that as the first of four options — it’s quite another matter he suggested that the BCCI help the ICC by supporting option No.4 (accepting the Indians’ demands).

The second option was to proceed with the Champions Trophy after barring India for failing to field its best team, with option No.3 being to continue with the event and accept a second-string Indian side.

Gray has placed on record that the IDI (the ICC’s business arm) would be liable for severe “damages” should any of the first three options be exercised.

Moreover, nobody is willing to accept India sans the Sachin Tendulkars and Sourav Gangulys -- certainly not Sony, for example.

While all that is fine, what has infuriated the BCCI is something else.

Had a deal been officially struck tonight, it would largely have been thanks to the face-to-face interaction between the Indian players and the ICC late last evening. Clearly, drama wasn’t at a premium when the Big Four (Sourav, Rahul Dravid, Sachin and Anil Kumble), plus spokesman Ravi Shastri, met ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and general manager (cricket) Dave Richardson.

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