The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Australians agree to sign

Sydney: World champions Australia said Thursday they will send a full-strength squad to next month’s ICC Champions Trophy after negotiations with the country’s leading players’ body over sponsorship.

A mass boycott of the prestigious event, being held in Sri Lanka, had become a real danger as leading players around the world refused to back down in the row with cricket authorities over sponsorship rights.

Players from all leading Test nations have yet to sign ICC contracts for the tournament because of a clause preventing them from endorsing products other than those of the official sponsors.

ACB chairman James Sutherland said the board had talked with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) and the players were happy to sign the contracts on the guarantee that the ICC would consult their representative groups on future deals.

Sutherland said the ICC had approved that guarantee in principle and that he expected the Council’s board to approve it next week as “a mere formality”.

“We are acknowledging the significant investment the ICC’s commercial partners have made in cricket and we have worked to balance this with the interests of Australian players,” Sutherland said.

ACA chief executive Tim May said he hoped the Australian agreement would provide a solution to the problems facing other leading cricketing nations.

“We believe that this template will provide solutions that can be used by all countries to end this dispute and to ensure that the world’s best players are able to participate,” May said.

Australia’s one-day captain Ricky Ponting said the promise that the ICC will consult with players over future sponsorship deals was the key to the compromise.

“The players have worked as best they could within the guidelines and the ACB is going to help the players out,” Ponting told reporters in Brisbane.

“The players were very disappointed that they weren’t consulted at what was in the contracts because they were the ones who were going to be left in the lurch.”

“(The ICC) must realise now that they’ve probably done the wrong thing and got themselves into a bit of a muddle and that was the thing we were most disappointed about,” he said.

In Cape Town South African cricket officials Thursday reported progress in resolving the dispute. “There’s been no final resolution of the matter, but a positive framework is in place that both the board and we are quite happy with,” said Tony Irish, the chief executive of the South African Cricketers’ Association. He said he was confident South Africa would to be able to send a full strength team to the Champions Trophy.

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