Thursday, August 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

BCCI picks 25 probables
Announcement of team withheld
S.K. Sesha Chandrika

Bangalore, August 21
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today decided to field a team in the Champions Trophy to be played in Colombo from the second week of September even if all the players currently on tour in England express their inability to take part due to the endorsement controversy.

BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmia said here after a two-day meeting of the working committee that the selection committee headed by Chandu Borde had given a list of 25 probables for the Colombo tourney. He said the list would not be made public till such time that the BCCI get a definite indication about willingness of all these players in writing. He also said that the board was simultaneously talking to players now in England, to know whether there was any change in their stand.

Answering queries of reporters after the crucial committee meeting, Mr Dalmia made it clear that the BCCI would go the extent of protecting the interests of the players and would even compensate losses to the players, if any, due to participation in the Champions Trophy.

In the meantime, after a two-day brainstorming session, the BCCI also took a determined step this afternoon to ensure that the Champions Trophy contracts were honoured and India would take part to avoid confrontation with the ICC. On the other hand, it still kept its doors open for negotiations with players even though they have declined to take part in the tourney.

When asked about the role of Ravi Shastri, the BCCI president categorically ruled out talks with anybody on behalf of the players. Mr Dalmia said that BCCI had not set any deadline for the talks. The BCCI was not aware earlier in the day of any ICC announcement while making these points.

Mr Dalmiya disclosed during the course of press conference that he was in touch with ace players like Saurav Ganguly, who had heftier endorsements, and Anil Kumble, who enjoys a great following in English county. While Sachin Tendulkar with a large number of endorsements and Rahul Dravid will continue to attract attention, talks will continue to be held to find out why those who do not have any endorsements are not willing to play for the country.

The announcement by the ICC spokesman that the conditionalities of the Champions Trophy do not extend to the entire five-year term seems to have taken a bit of wind out of this controversy, the situation may well end up in only a few selected few players missing the Colombo flight.

PTI adds: Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya told reporters here today he had received the list from the selection committee which had drawn up the names of the probables at its meeting here last night.

“We need to talk to all these players to check their availability. We should also give them some time to make up their minds,” Mr Dalmiya said, explaining the reasons for not announcing the names immediately.

A board official had, however, said names were not being revealed because of apprehensions that the players in England might try to persuade the probables not to sign the agreement.

Mr Dalmiya said the doors were still open for members of the current Indian team, now in England, to change their minds and be a part of the squad.

“The doors are open for them and if they change their minds, they can still be in the team. We will wait for their decision till the announcement of the team,” he said.

Mr Dalmiya said, the working committee, which met here again today, unanimously decided that the board would deal directly with the players and not entertain any intermediaries.

“I don’t know on whose behalf is Ravi Shastri making the statements. Is he talking as a commentator or a media man or on behalf of the sponsors or for the players?” he asked.

Commenting on Shastri’s statement in Leeds yesterday that the players would not budge from their stand, Mr Dalmiya said: “The question of sticking to their stand is a relative term. It has to be interpreted relatively under the circumstances”.

Asked whether the International Cricket Council had fixed any deadline for announcing the team, Mr Dalmiya said: “There is no such deadline. We will send the team whenever we are asked to.”

“We will definitely participate in the tournament with the best available team,” Mr Dalmiya said.

Following the rebuff from the top cricketers last night, the cricket board went ahead and picked the probables for the Champions Trophy to be played in Sri Lanka next month.

The selection committee met here last night and picked the probables after the current Indian team, now in England, rejected a fresh call from the cricket board to sign the agreement for the tournament, board sources told PTI.

The sources said only after these probables sign the agreement, will their names be released. The board has also short-listed a few stand-byes who will be roped in if any of the selected probables also refuse to sign.

The board had yesterday given the players in England another chance to make themselves available for the tournament. But the players rejected the offer almost instantaneously and dared the cricket board to send a second- rung team to Sri Lanka, a move that has got support from the England players also.

Meanwhile, the cricket board was pondering over the implications of sending a second-string team to the tournament. The BCCI is in danger of losing at least a part of the guarantee money from ICC if it is not able to ensure the participation of its best team.

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told PTI this morning that the board would not make any further attempts to persuade the players to sign the controversial agreement, remarking “we have talked enough. They are united... what can we do”.

But he said, the BCCI had not exactly closed the door on them. “If players decide to sign, we will consider”, he said.

Mr Shah said the BCCI would also not talk to players currently in England who might not have been affected if they signed the agreement. “They knew what they were doing... they are no kids”.

He declined to comment on the role of Ravi Shastri, who is the players’ spokesman, who had yesterday said the BCCI could pick and send a second-rung team if it wanted, but the players would not budge.

The BCCI’s working committee, attended by its president, Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya, had yesterday unanimously decided that India would definitely participate in the “mini World Cup” in Sri Lanka next month.


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