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Dalmiya announces end of impasse

Calcutta: Jagmohan Dalmiya wore a sheepish smile as he entered the Taj Bengal a second time in the evening on Monday. The air of anxiety and worry that pervaded prior to the one-hour-45-minute teleconference had given way to a more relaxed atmosphere.

The month-long drama and hours of anticipation that had preceded the formal announcement of a breakthrough to the contracts row had finally come to an end. However, despite the smiles, The Telegraph’s sources said the clash of interest between Sahara, team sponsors, and South African Airways, one of the ICC sponsors, had not been resolved.

“We are still trying to work something out and an agreement is likely to be reached soon,” said a senior BCCI functionary.

The International Cricket Council’s executive board had agreed to a worldwide teleconference among its members around 1.30 pm to resolve the crisis. The meeting finally got going at 5.30 pm.

In last night’s letter to the BCCI president, the players said it was not a question of money but one of “principles and integrity”.

In an impromptu press conference in the afternoon, Dalmiya had heaped sarcasm on the players’ stand and said the ICC Champions Trophy would be played very much for money.

Then, once Dalmiya gave the go-ahead, the selectors settled down to choose a second string side in case of an emergency. The meeting lasted more than two hours.

“This morning, the ICC requested me to postpone the decision of the selection committee.

“But I said with only 72 hours left for the meet, let us go ahead with the scheduled selection committee meeting and, if needed, withhold the decision till an agreement is reached,” Dalmiya said. The BCCI chief, however, did not have to resort to such means later in the day.

“Things are now settled and we are quite happy at the conclusion,” he said.

“Though we have not received anything in black and white now, we understand that the terms as agreed upon between the players and the ICC and as decided at the teleconference will reach us by tonight to formalise the entire thing”, Dalmiya added.

Dalmiya said a model form would be sent by the ICC and the redrafted agreement would be received by the Board in a couple of days. The players would sign this before leaving for Colombo on Thursday.

He also praised the 24 players, second string probables, who had agreed to sign the original Players’ Terms. “I appreciate their gesture. They had stood by the BCCI and the country in time of crisis. They will be suitably rewarded,” said Dalmiya.

The Board president justified his stand of not going to London to speak to the players.

“Even if I had gone there I could not have offered any concession to the players since it was an ICC contract. That is why, at the expense of being criticised, I allowed the ICC to speak directly to the players”, he said.

THE SQUAD

Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, V.V.S. Laxman, J.P. Yadav, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.

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