'No decision yet on Pollard, Bravo and Narine'
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine are yet to formally give their consent to represent Trinidad & Tobago, instead of their IPL franchises, in the forthcoming Champions League Twenty20, a T&T board official has told ESPNcricinfo. IPL franchises also say they are unaware of any decision taken by the players to represent T&T.
Earlier this week the T&T sports minister, Anil Roberts, had said that the three players agreed to sign the Memorandum of Understanding to play for their country instead of their IPL franchise. In return, the government would compensate them with a suitable match fee.
A T&T Cricket Board official, speaking on condition of anonymity, however told ESPNcricinfo that a final decision was yet to be reached. "The players have not yet signed on a contract either way, whether they would like to play for the IPL franchise or Trinidad and Tobago. (But) We should have a decision within the next 48 hours."
The three franchises that the players represent are IPL winners Kolkata Knight Riders, defending CLT20 champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings; all three feature in the CLT20 to be held in South Africa this year. All three players have been influential performers for their respective franchises.
The CLT20 organisers have asked T&T to play the pre-tournament qualifiers, instead of giving the team a direct entry. T&T, who made the finals of the inaugural CLT20 in 2009, form part of a six-team qualifying pool, divided into two, with the winner from each set joining the top eight teams in the main event. The lack of direct entry has evoked criticism from the T&T board.
So far none of the players have commented on the issue in public but their franchises have not taken kindly to Roberts' comments. A Mumbai Indians spokesperson said that as far as they understand the situation, the T&T sports minister has spoken to the players or their agents but that no decision has yet been made on who the players will play for. Venky Mysore, the chief executive of Knight Riders, said in a text message that the franchise did not wish to comment at the moment but might have an update in a day or two. No one from the Super Kings' management could be reached for a comment.
The franchises' reaction contradicted Roberts' statement that he had explained to them the exact reason the players should be representing T&T. "So while they may be upset, I tell them I am very sorry they are upset, but the [T&T] population wants our best players, the government wants our best players," Roberts had said. "The players want to play for Trinidad & Tobago and they will play for Trinidad & Tobago."
There has been no official reaction yet from the CLT20 governing council, but Rajiv Shukla, chairman IPL governing council, said he was unaware about the development. "It is between the player and the franchises," Shukla told ESPNcricinfo. "Let the franchise approach us and then we will check."
The IPL Player Contract has a Clause 3.1 (i) containing three varying conditions regarding the players' CLT20 participation. The clause states that a player will play solely for a franchise in the IPL and in the CLT20 if the team qualifies for it unless the player is not selected for the squad or is released by the franchises "in its absolute discretion" to play for "another team which has qualified" for the CLT20. It is the third condition which leaves the situation open-ended stating that the player can play for another team in the CLT20 if, "the rules of the CLT20 (or any agreement to which the Franchisee has agreed) permit the Player to elect to play for another team (not being a team in the League) which has qualified for such CLT20 and the Player so elects." The rules of the IPL however state that it is the IPL franchise that has the first choice over a player in the CLT20. Under those conditions, the IPL franchisee has to pay the player's second club/ first-class team an amount approaching $150,000 per player.
Incidentally Pollard, Bravo and Narine were part of the T&T squad in the inaugural edition of the CLT20, when they lost to New South Wales in the final in 2009. But back then Pollard and Narine had no IPL contracts and Bravo had played for Mumbai Indians, who had not qualified for the CLT20.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo