The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Justice Ebrahim’s ‘verdict’ awaited

Calcutta: Jagmohan Dalmiya, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, will be wearing two hats at Monday’s Player Terms-specific meeting in the city, but much of the attention could be on Zimbabwe’s Justice (retd) Ahmed Ebrahim.

Both are members of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) high-powered committee specially constituted to tackle the Terms issue before the February-March World Cup.

Also present will be former South African wicketkeeper Dave Richardson, now a general manager with the ICC. Incidentally, till Richardson joined the sport’s governing body, he handled the South African players’ contracts with the United Cricket Board.

Richardson, of course, isn’t on the committee. But, then, Anil Kumble isn’t either — however, India’s most successful spinner will be around to “clarify” the Indian players’ stand.

Despite their presence, too, Justice Ebrahim (whose roots are in a Gujarat village) may still be the cynosure as the Terms controversy has wide legal ramifications. In fact, he got co-opted because of his credentials: A judge for 19 years, the last 12 in the Supreme Court.

“I’ll be happy if I can play a part in settling the issue,” is all that Justice Ebrahim, who retired in May, told The Telegraph Sunday afternoon, a few hours after arriving from Harare via Johannesburg and Dubai.

Vice-chairman of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, Justice Ebrahim remains his country’s nominee on the ICC’s Supplementary Panel of Match Referees.

Given the seemingly hardline adopted both by the World Cup sponsors (or, as has become fashionable, the ICC’s commercial partners) and the Indians, Justice Ebrahim could end up playing a bigger role than envisaged.

While Kumble declined to comment, when contacted on his cellphone, one of the seniors touring New Zealand did say the players’ personal sponsors “aren’t inclined” towards offering concessions.

In other words, unless thoroughly amended, the Terms won’t be signed.

Equally, the ICC’s own sponsors appear firm about not repeating their Champions Trophy act.

More trouble, then, for the ICC which is desperate for a “pragmatic solution.”

Indeed, Pepsi (a global partner) has already sought compensation for the Champions Trophy-concessions, while the other global partner (LG) is understood to have conveyed a “general claims intent.”

As Dalmiya’s first task is to “protect” the Indian players, his approach is bound to have that no-nonsense flavour. In any case, he has formally questioned the inclusion of contentious (“restrictive”) clauses, which directly hurt the Sourav Gangulys and Sachin Tendulkars.

Though Dalmiya was ICC president when the TV/marketing rights tender (for events from 2000-2007) was floated, the contract itself was signed after he relinquished office in the second-half of June 2000. Obviously, somebody probably had a vested interest in inserting certain clauses.

It’s significant, perhaps, that the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica) isn’t in the frame this time and, unlike the pre-Champions Trophy scenario, the players have reposed “complete faith” in Dalmiya.

Moreover, as the World Cup is involved, there’s no question of picking a second XI — as would have been done had the Champions Trophy imbroglio not been resolved.

But, then, that was a stopgap arrangement aimed at allowing everybody breathing space.

Just how fruitfully the period was utilised should, to a large extent, be known by Monday evening.

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