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August 17, 2002 | 1745 IST

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Players told to sign contract for Champions Trophy only

In a desperate bid to ensure participation of its top cricketers in next month's Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has asked the players to sign the contract for the upcoming event only, promising to sort out the matter with the game's governing body at a later stage.

The BCCI, which has found itself in a bind with top players reluctant to sign the contract -- which cuts down their commercial independence -- has told the team that it would be in a position to discuss the issue at length with the International Cricket Council only after the Champions Trophy.

Sources said, while taking note of the resentment generated by the controversial sponsorship policy, BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya had written a letter to the team saying that the situation could go beyond redemption if the players did not sign the contract for the Champions Trophy.

The BCCI told the players that should they sign the Players' Terms form, it would inform the ICC that the assurances and agreements are extended only for the Champions Trophy, and take up the matter with the apex body by October 31.

The BCCI has placed the argument that since it is bound by the contractual obligation to send its best team to Sri Lanka, it has very little breathing space now. All the affiliated boards have signed the agreement which lasts till 2007.

After initially rejecting BCCI's request, the players have sought more time to reconsider their decision, the sources said.

Coach John Wright, who had kept himself in the background till now, has also come in the picture and told the players to think afresh on the issue which has threatened to jeopardise the mega-event in Sri Lanka.

Wright reportedly told the players that the BCCI had always stood by the team and they should keep this factor in mind when taking a final decision.

The players feel the ICC restrictions are "unfair and unreasonable" since some of the terms in the contract adversely affected their endorsement deals, the sources said.

Senior players are also unhappy that they were not consulted before the BCCI finally signed the contract on May 28, last year.

The players are expected to have a discussion on this issue either today or tomorrow and a clear picture will emerge in the next couple of days.

Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, who has been a major draw for the corporates, captain Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag have been been the main casualties of ICC's controversial sponsorship policy, which bars the players from appearing in advertisement campaigns one month before and after an ICC tournament.

Although the deadline for signing the Participating Nations Agreement for the Colombo meet has expired, cricketers from Australia, England, Sri Lanka and South Africa apart from India have not yet signed the contract. However, the ICC expects the issue to be resolved by next week.

Also read:
The ICC contract face-off - The complete coverage

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