The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Players to test rethink pitch with sponsors

London, Sept. 1: With the International Cricket Council (ICC) insisting on the Player Terms being signed without changing a comma, the Indian cricketers may seek time to interact with personal sponsors before reverting to the BCCI.

Should that happen, the suspense over whether India will field its best team in next month’s Champions Trophy in Colombo will linger. For the record, BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya has again “advised” the players to sign the terms — more so, as the ICC is then committed to reviewing it by October 31.

If the cricketers oblige — and that is a reasonably strong possibility — no endorsements which clash with the ICC’s sponsors will be allowed till 30 days after the final of the September 12-30 event. So, for starters, personal sponsors will have to be consulted. “That, as of now, is a must,” one of the seniors told The Telegraph at the team hotel, St James Crowne Plaza.

Some players are raising pertinent questions: Why didn’t the ICC review the terms right now' Moreover, what if they oblige and, after the review, the ICC still doesn’t budge'

These questions are bound to be raised at the (delayed) team meeting to discuss yesterday’s developments at the ICC’s executive board session in Dubai, and the latest from the BCCI.

The delay, of course, has everything to do with extraordinary circumstances. Not that the time difference has been of any help. With captain Sourav Ganguly’s cellphone malfunctioning, Dalmiya could only speak to him late in the evening — around 24 hours after the Dubai meet.

[Contact at the team hotel, earlier in the day, wasn’t possible as Sourav had opted for a late check-in, preferring to spend time at an uncle’s place.]

Then, when the captain sought to call the meeting, he found just about everybody out of St James. Today being a day off, none of the cricketers was obliged to hang around at the hotel.

In fact, around the time Dalmiya was talking to Sourav, Sanjay Bangar was seen leaving for Heathrow to receive relatives.

Faced with a fresh ‘crisis’, Sourav requested manager Ranga Reddy to try and contact the players, asking them to prepare for yet another unusual team meeting. However, it’s unlikely it can actually be held in a hurry.

To make the cricketers feel “comfortable”, as somebody put it, Dalmiya faxed details of what transpired in Dubai and, more important, forwarded the ICC’s written commitment. Though addressed to Sourav, the faxes were sent to Reddy who, in turn, arranged to despatch copies for every single member of the tour party.

The ICC’s commitment has been placed on record in chief executive Malcolm Speed’s one-page letter to Dalmiya.

The communication includes the following: “I confirm that the board has agreed that in the event the Indian players, currently touring England, agree to sign and comply with the Player Terms for the forthcoming Champions Trophy, the IDI (the business arm of the ICC) agrees to meet with the BCCI to have, in good faith, discussions concerning the issues of endorsements and pre-existing sponsorship contracts for future ICC events. It is proposed that these discussions take place after the Champions Trophy and before the end of October 2002.”

Clearly, it would have helped had the “good faith” bit been replaced by something more positive.

Yesterday’s motion calling for the boycott of all cricketers who make themselves unavailable (on account of commercial considerations) for ICC events was moved by New Zealand. But, then, within the ICC, New Zealand has never ever been considerate towards India.

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