The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fax diplomacy fails to connect

London, Sept. 3: It wasn’t intended, but a communication gap seems to be developing between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the national players in England. Unless their communication channel is strengthened, one fears the on-going controversy will truly get out of hand.

Besides Indian cricket itself, a big sufferer will be the upcoming Champions Trophy in Colombo.

The cricketers, for instance, are unhappy that neither has BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya himself made it convenient to come, nor has he deputed somebody to “clarify matters” across the table. Relying on long-distance calls and dozens of faxes isn’t really ending the Player-Terms stalemate.

“It’s become a long rally in a table tennis game,” quipped Ravi Shastri, a former India captain and the current cricketers’ spokesman.

Indeed, with the International Cricket Council headquartered here, it would have been much easier to clear things first-hand. Dalmiya has reasons for not coming — No.1 being it’s beyond the BCCI’s jurisdiction to effect changes in the terms — but his absence hasn’t been well received. In fact, the terms controversy has entered its fourth week and a series-deciding Test is a mere 48 hours away.

It’s this growing lack of communication, perhaps, which prompted Dalmiya to send an unambiguous message through manager Ranga Reddy this afternoon: The players must quickly respond to his three-page communication sent late last evening.

Other reasons apart, Dalmiya wanted the reply before the day was out as he will be away from Calcutta tomorrow.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the cricketers will respond in the morning but, going by indications, nothing much will probably emerge. As one of the seniors put it: “Do we now focus on the Test or again busy ourselves drafting replies' Our priority, at this moment, is the Oval match.”

Moreover, while Dalmiya has asked the players to be “specific” about their terms-reservations, they have suggested “everything” have already been conveyed to him through captain Sourav Ganguly.

Significantly, the cricketers aren’t willing to take the next step — that of talking to personal sponsors — till it’s confirmed in writing that clause 10, which allows the ICC’s own sponsors to use images for a period of six months after the final of an event, will be deleted.

Only when that’s done will they request personal sponsors to not run conflicting campaigns both during the September 12-30 Champions Trophy and for a period of 30 days immediately after the final.

Even if the players get to the stage of requesting their own sponsors, it’s debatable whether those who have invested crores will actually oblige and help the ICC. It’s a messy affair, but (looking ahead) if personal sponsors slap a penalty, the cricketers can always ask the BCCI to honour the compensation commitment made some weeks ago.

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