The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ehsan Mani active behind the scenes

Calcutta: While hardliners within the International Cricket Council (ICC) are inclined to reject the Indians’ conditional signing of the six-page Player Terms (or contract), a move is afoot to accept the same with a proviso that the dispute be settled through arbitration only. Perhaps, even after the World Cup.

The aim, obviously, is to allow the forthcoming tournament to ‘take off’ without a major controversy being the focal point of its build-up. Cricket’s biggest event can surely do without all the attention on the Lausanne-located Court of Arbitration for Sports.

According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, an emergent meeting of the ICC’s Executive Board is likely to be called once the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) meets Tuesday’s deadline for forwarding the Terms, duly signed by all 15 players.

The Terms must reach the IDI Ltd, business arm of the ICC, by 10.30 pm (IST).

“The mood, at the moment, is against India. Yet, the (Board’s) directors are being persuaded to adopt a softer stand — for now, at least,” is how one of the sources put it, requesting anonymity.

Officially, though, the ICC won’t respond till the Terms actually reach the IDI Ltd. “At this point, there’s no reaction,” informed spokesman Mark Harrison.

Incidentally, as the BCCI hasn’t yet received the originals of the Terms (from New Zealand), it will effectively be re-faxing all 90 pages — each player signed the contract individually — forwarded by manager Nathu Ram Choudhary late last week.

“The originals will be couriered once we’ve received them from New Zealand,” a BCCI spokesman clarified late Monday.

Every player, by the way, has signed on page 5 and, from Sourav Ganguly to Parthiv Patel, each one has listed what is unacceptable just above the space provided for ‘inking’ the Terms.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ehsan Mani, the London-based ICC vice-president, has emerged a key player in efforts to resolve the row.

Mani — who will become the second Asian (after buddy Jagmohan Dalmiya) to head the ICC, in June — wasn’t available for comment, but sources confirmed he has been “most active” behind the scenes.

Apparently, Mani has been trying to convince hardliners to accept the conditional signing with that very clear (Lausanne-specific) proviso.

However, if the hardliners’ view prevails, the BCCI will either have to get the Terms signed afresh — unconditionally — or, if that’s not feasible, select the “best available 15” and possibly open itself to claims for compensation.

The BCCI, of course, sees the dispute somewhat differently.

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