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Court blow sets pitch for cricket clash

Calcutta, Jan. 22: The World Cup-related Player Terms/contracts war is far from over.

While today’s interim order by a division bench of Delhi High Court has pushed the International Cricket Council (ICC) on the back foot, the body will take its own decision — via a teleconference of the executive board — on Friday.

Technically, that will come from the ICC’s business arm —IDI Ltd. There, too, all 10 Test-playing nations have representation. Besides, there are seats for three Associate members.

The court’s order, on a PIL filed by 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev, teammate Madanlal and others, stops revenue flow from India to the ICC and the official World Cup sponsors if Indian players are punished.

“The board will either accept the contracts’ conditional signing by the Indians and refer possible claims of compensation for arbitration, or ask the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to send a fresh set of contracts signed without preconditions,” said a source.

Speaking to The Telegraph from London, he added: “If the second option is exercised, the BCCI will have 72 hours to comply. Failure will invite legal provisions listed in the Participating Nation Agreement…”

Moreover, should the Jagmohan Dalmiya-headed BCCI not agree to abide by the arbiters’ verdict, if the dispute does reach Lausanne, the board will “consider” calling for India’s suspension at the ICC’s annual general meeting in June. One understands this has been formally conveyed to the BCCI.

For now, though, the ICC can’t be enthused by acting Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed’s order. The three Cup sponsors from India — Pepsi, LG and Hero Honda — also stand affected.

As another source put it: “Attitudes within the ICC could harden.”

It’s to be seen whether the move (initiated a few days ago) to “provisionally” accept the Indians’ conditional signing gains momentum in the next 48 hours. After all, many in the ICC are now convinced the PIL has been wholly encouraged by the BCCI.

To talk of sponsors, LG has gone ballistic, threatening to move the Supreme Court.

The high court order included (a) No foreign exchange to the ICC, either through sponsorship or damages, if the Indian players are debarred from the Cup; (b) No telecast of advertisements featuring official Cup sponsors, from India, if the national team isn’t allowed to participate; (c) No foreign exchange remittance for the official Cup sponsors if either the BCCI or the Indian players are penalised by the ICC.

The respondents (including the ICC and the Union government) have a week to file replies and the next hearing is listed for February 18, by which date India would have played two Cup matches.

Incidentally, unless resolved, the Sri Lankan imbroglio will also figure in the teleconference. Apparently, the Lankans will be given 72 hours to forward the contracts/terms.

Otherwise, the ICC (the IDI Ltd, technically) will initiate legal proceedings.

 

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