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August 19, 2002 | 0205 IST

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Players may name Ravi Shastri their spokesman

Ashish Shukla in Leeds

The broad understanding among the Indian cricketers on the sponsorship row has begun to take formal shape and they will soon have a spokesman to negotiate on their behalf with the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

According to reliable sources, former India captain Ravi Shastri, who is now a commentator with ESPN-STAR Sports, is likely to be authorized to speak on behalf of the players.

Though neither the players nor Shastri were forthcoming on this move, the sources said a letter to this effect from the players is likely to be delivered to the BCCI in the next couple of days.

With the third Test against England starting at Headingley on Thursday, the players are keen to keep their focus on the game and not be diverted by this controversy which has threatened to disrupt next month's ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

At present, the players are firm in their resolve not to sign the contract that requires them to forgo their individual endorsements starting one month before an ICC tournament and ending one month after if there is a clash of interests with the official sponsors of the event.

The players feel that their case is strengthened by the fact that they were given the contracts just one month before the tournament and also that there is no precedent for such a one-sided contract in any other sport.

For instance, England football captain David Beckham supported a soft drink throughout the recent World Cup even though a rival soft drink company had the official rights. Similarly, the Brazilian players openly advertised for a footwear and leisure clothing company when its rival was one of the official sponsors.

As such, the players have decided to get organized and put their case collectively before the BCCI. This decision could be a path-breaking development in Indian cricket as, unlike in other countries, the Indian players have not had any association to safeguard their interests so far.

But this unity will be limited to the 16 players who form the touring party in England and will not include the 600-odd cricketers who play in the domestic competition, according to a team insider.

Meanwhile, the BCCI has called a meeting of its selection committee in Bangalore on Tuesday. India has not yet announced its team for the Champions Trophy unlike England and Australia who have named their squads even though their players have also not signed the contracts.


Players told to sign contract for Champions Trophy only
Squad for Sri Lanka delayed by sponsorship row

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