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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 13, 2002
1540 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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'Integrity was the issue; not money'

Faisal Shariff in Colombo

The Indian team finally arrived in Colombo after weeks of suspense over participation in the ICC Champions Trophy and immediately attempted to clear the air on the contract row.

"Integrity was the issue; not money," declared ace leg spinner Anil Kumble at a media conference, held soon after arrival, at the Taj Samudra.

Attempting to clear the misconception that the players were refusing to sign the contracts because of the amount of money they would stand to lose, he said: "It was a question of principles. We already have existing contracts with our sponsors. As a matter of ethics and principle, we did not want to breach the contracts."

Skipper Sourav Ganguly, however, preferred to duck the issue, saying the board had heard the players' voice and he is happy with the way the issue was sorted out.

He refused to discuss the matter any further, saying he is not in a position to talk about any problems that could arise with future contracts.

Talking about the performance of the Indian team over the past season, Ganguly said his team had won 80 per cent of the one-dayers played this year.

He, however, expressed disappointment at not winning the elusive overseas Test series. "It [the England series] was an agonizing case of so near yet so far," he said.

Despite having to play Zimbabwe less than 48 hours after arriving in Colombo, he was pragmatic about the tight itinerary of the team.

"We have a career span of 10-12 years. Yes, we have been on the road for long, but then it is a decision we have taken with the backing of our families." he said.

Sachin Tendulkar, who was also present at the conference along with vice-captain Rahul Dravid, said with the contract issue yet to be resolved completely, the players are now in a position to understand the point better than before.

"There are another 3-4 months before the issue will come up again. As of now let us just concentrate on winning this tournament," he added.

Dravid though was the cynosure of all eyes, fielding maximum questions from the media.

Talking about his romance with the English wickets he joked that he would love to carry them around with him.

In response to his added responsibility as a wicketkeeper for the one-dayers, he conceded being initially unsure about the arrangement but later, after looking at the results, was confident about his new role in the team.

"I understand that keeping to Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble on the subcontinent wickets will not be an easy task. But as a stand-in keeper I will give it my best shot. Hopefully, keeping on the South African tracks for the World Cup won't be such a tough job."

The ICC Contract Row - Complete Coverage


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