No pay for players following Toronto All Star T20
Top international players who participated in an 'All Star Twenty20' event in Toronto last weekend, some of them travelling from as far as South Africa and Sri Lanka, have been left in the lurch over their appearance money and in some cases reimbursement for air travel. Events company Kat Rose, who organised the event, said they incurred substantial losses when six Pakistan players including Shahid Afridi pulled out at the last minute. The company is in contact with their lawyers and accountants to resolve the issue, but has not put a time-frame on when monies will be distributed.
The match, which was played in Toronto on Saturday, was billed as a high-quality encounter between the best Asian and international players in the game, and was marketed primarily with the city's Asian population as the target. It featured several internationals such as Mark Boucher and Sanath Jayasuriya, who were left without their fees.
Boucher told ESPNcricinfo that he has not been paid, but said he "enjoyed the experience of playing in Canada". He added that he had delivered all receipts on monies spent, including an internal flight in Canada, to his agents and they will try to recover the money. Boucher posted a message from Toronto on Twitter which read, "Absolute shambles at the @T20AllStar2012 in Canada. No players been paid. No organisers here to explain! Disgrace for Canadian cricket! So sad!", followed by "doubt any international cricketers will be back here in Canada after this".
Absolute shambles at @T20AllStar2012 in Canada.no players been paid.no organisers here to explain!disgrace for Canadian cricket!so sad!— mark boucher (@markb46) May 14, 2012
Jayasuriya told Canada's CBC news that he has "been playing for the last 20 years and never gone through this kind of thing before", and that he is owed $15,000 for his flights and appearance in the event. And the former Pakistan offspinner Saqlain Mushtaq said those who took part wanted to help the cause of cricket in Canada but needed their basic requirements met. ""The cricketers went to Canada with their best intentions to support the event and we delivered our side of the deal," he told PakPassion. "We flew out there from all parts of the world, played to the best of our ability, so we have done what was required from us. I would urge the organisers to deliver their side of the deal and what was promised to all of the cricketers and pay us our dues."
Herb Choga, president of Kat Rose, denied some of those claims. "There are lot of rumours [around] that are difficult to justify," Choga said. "Everything has happened in such a rush and everything is a bit upside-down." Choga denied that Boucher had to take an internal flight. He also said that Jayasuriya was not owed as much as $15,000, although Choga would not say how much exactly was due to him. Boucher said it was not a "great deal of money, but money is money, after all".
Kat Rose's financial troubles came to a head in the week leading up to the match. The PCB refused to release its star players for the event. "We heard on the Tuesday before the match that the players may not come but, through Cricket Canada, we engaged in further negotiation. We even spoke to the Pakistani consulate in Canada. Up until Thursday we were hopeful that they would be there," Choga said. "When the players pulled out, we were in a very difficult position. We had a totally different concept to what was advertised. We had to refund tickets and investors pulled out. We had a choice of either cancelling the match or continuing."
Choga said he asked the players who had made it to Toronto whether they wanted to go ahead with the game but was upfront with them about the circumstances under which they would be playing. "I made it clear to them what situation we were in," Choga said, referring to the fact that Kat Rose no longer had the money to make payments immediately. "I gave them a choice [whether to play or not] and Brian Lara, for example, said he was not willing to play but he would come to the match." Lara's omission from the International XI was widely questioned on the day, with no explanation offered.
Various Canada players made up the rest of the Asian contingent and the result was a much lower-profile event, played in front of an estimated crowd of 12,000 in the Rogers Centre, which can hold over 50,000. Both Kat Rose and Cricket Canada made a loss and the players involved have not received any remuneration. "We've got our accountants and lawyers involved to see what we can do but nothing is certain right now," Choga said. "We owe banks money and we owe sponsors explanations."
Cricket Canada, meanwhile, has also not been paid its share of the monies either and has expressed regret over the matter. While Choga said Cricket Canada was paid certain instalments in the planning phases, he admitted they were not given any of the ticket proceeds. Doug Hannum, the Cricket Canada chief executive, said they also suffered financially and although they are not directly responsible for player payment, they "will not take a penny until the players have been paid".
Hannum said Cricket Canada had noted a few important lessons from the botched arrangements of the event. "What we have learnt is that is it not easy to host these kinds of events and it requires the co-operation of multiple cricket boards. We will not enter into an agreement like this again unless we are absolutely sure that the people we make the agreement with have made proper arrangements."
Still, Hannum believes the match was "a great success and quite well attended given the circumstances". He acknowledged that Cricket Canada's reputation would have suffered as a result of the failed organisation. "It doesn't help our cause at all and it will make it more challenging for us to try and hosts events like this in future," he said.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent