| Kumble in Calcutta. Amit Datta
Calcutta, Dec. 9: To ensure a smooth launch of the February-March World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is likely to embrace a take-or-leave Player Terms package suggested by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
With very good reasons, the current terms aren’t acceptable to the Indian cricketers.
Though pen may not be put to paper for the next fortnight, indications are that the ICC will eventually accept the package, where the contentious clauses have been suitably amended. Only, it must first sell that to its commercial partners, specifically the nine World Cup sponsors.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, the package is reasonable: The no-conflicting-endorsements clause should only be operational during the February 8-March 23 tournament — not from 30 days before till 30 days after the event. Further, the ICC’s sponsors could use the Indian players’ images for just two (and not six or three) months after the final.
Hard bargainer Jagmohan Dalmiya (the BCCI president), who placed this package during the extended ICC-BCCI meeting here today, is understood to have emphasised two points.
First, the ICC cannot compel players to breach pre-existing contracts with individual sponsors. Apparently, this was endorsed by Justice (retd) Ahmed Ebrahim, a member of the World Cup Contracts’ Committee.
In other words, if challenged, the existing terms won’t stand in court.
Second, having been privy to what wasn’t always put in black and white (during his tenure as ICC president), Dalmiya argued it wasn’t originally intended to incorporate restrictive clauses. Therefore, factually. too, he was on a strong wicket.
Incidentally, while Dalmiya is a member of the Contracts’ panel, he clarified to only wearing the BCCI president’s hat during the over four-hour deliberations. “Keeping the clash of interest in mind, I offered to quit, but the ICC deemed I should continue,” Dalmiya said.
Officially, both Dalmiya and Justice Ebrahim had this to say: “Significant progress has been made.” The latter, of course, added: “The best Indian team is very keen to be there at the World Cup...”
[The naming of India’s 30 probables, by the way, should now be done sooner rather than later.]
Also present during the meeting in a Taj Bengal suite were Anil Kumble, representing the players, and ICC general manager (cricket) Dave Richardson.
Complimented by Dalmiya for his “contribution,” Kumble remarked he was “satisfied” with the closed-door interaction. In fact, the quartet met yet again informally, after the media briefing.
For good measure, Kumble pointed out that he was “more than satisfied” with the BCCI’s manner of presenting the players’ case. It obviously helped that Dalmiya and Kumble were closeted for around two hours before the deliberations.
As expected, Kumble will “brief” the seniors, currently in New Zealand, and then get back to Dalmiya (and the ICC). With the first Test beginning Thursday, he may wait a few days before speaking to the Sourav Gangulys.
Talking exclusively, Richardson said he was “feeling more satisfied as things were sinking in…”
Having negotiated the South African players’ contracts in the period after quitting big-time cricket and joining the ICC, Richardson should really be on the Indians’ wavelength.
Significantly, Richardson was in fairly regular contact (from an adjoining room) with ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.