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Whispers of framework for solution
- player terms controversy

Calcutta, Dec. 28: It’s probably a measure of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) desperation that chief executive Malcolm Speed chose a traditional non-working day to disclose the contents of the Participating Nation Agreement signed by India. In any case, he is supposed to be on vacation.

This evening’s ‘leak’, of course, has everything to do with the on-going Player Terms controversy.

The Board of Control for India (BCCI), however, has no intention of promptly reacting and triggering another verbal war. President Jagmohan Dalmiya wasn’t available for comment, but a very influential member did tell The Telegraph: “If it comes to that, our lawyers alone will respond to the legality of what has been signed. For now, nothing needs to be said.”

Strong words but, then, nobody will publicly backtrack on an issue where stakes are sky-high.

In fact, even though the ICC has been going overboard with the “final offer” bit, a source close to its commercial partners revealed that the “framework of a solution” is actually being put in place.

Speaking exclusively this afternoon, the source pointed out: “This framework should be ready by January 2/3… My understanding is that it will straightaway be placed before the BCCI and the players.”

Apparently, the solution is being jointly authored by the ICC and the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), which holds marketing rights for ICC events till the 2007 World Cup.

Given the mood, it won’t surprise if talk of negotiating a “commercial rebate” figures in what is offered afresh. It’s another matter how that will be received.

“Look, everybody must compromise to some extent — even the Indian players who, today, aren’t on a winning streak and can’t afford to adopt that we-won’t-budge attitude… The lead-up to the Champions Trophy was different, as the Sourav Gangulys were on a roll. In the past few weeks, their bargaining power has definitely suffered,” the source added.

The BCCI (which alone is representing the players) may not quite agree with this assessment, but the ODI series (in New Zealand) is just one match old — in other words, Sourav and Co. do have the opportunity to re-claim lost bargaining power.

Incidentally, as the two biggest sponsors, Pepsi and LG, are committed to supporting the ICC till 2007, both want the Terms business settled once and for all. Indeed, they can do without adverse publicity before every Champions Trophy and World Cup.

As it turns out, even the BCCI wants this controversy to end for good. So, without much of an effort from either party, there already is a meeting point for both…

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