West Indies in India 2014-15 October 17, 2014

IPL stakes will influence decision on players

Several West Indies players have become synonymous with their respective IPL franchises © AFP

How the BCCI deals with the West Indies board, and indeed the entire issue of the abandoned tour, will be dictated to a large extent by the pulls and pressures of its marquee event, the IPL. Some BCCI officials feel the West Indies players should be excluded from the IPL but others, aware of the realpolitik of Indian cricket, have sought to downplay the issue, believing the players should not pay the price for something that was "not entirely their fault".

The IPL governing council is likely to discuss the issue at a meeting in Hyderabad on October 21.

At the heart of the matter is the pulling power of some West Indies players - Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Smith - and the fact that they play for some of the most powerful and high-profile franchises. All these players have become synonymous with their respective franchises and are often the face of advertising campaigns. "There is no way we can dictate to the franchises about whom to pick, so officially we cannot take any action against them," said a BCCI functionary, preferring anonymity.

It is also believed that one of the key reasons for BCCI's assistance to the Caribbean players over the last ten days was their importance to the IPL set-up. According to an official in the Caribbean, the players had been assured by the BCCI that their IPL futures were secure. It is understood the players checked with BCCI about a rumour that action would be taken against West Indies players in the current team who played the IPL; the players were reportedly assured that this was not true.

The other complication, for both the BCCI and its West Indies counterpart, is the issue of no-objection certificates, which every overseas player needs from his home board before being allowed to play in the IPL. If the WICB decides to suspend or ban the players who prematurely ended the tour, it will affect the NOCs for the next season. The Bangladesh Cricket Board recently did that with Shakib Al Hasan, who, as things stand, will not be released for the 2015 IPL.

However, any player can be a part of the IPL as a free agent if he retires from international cricket. That's how Kevin Pietersen is expected to play the next season.

This is where the WICB will have to tread gently, for fear of losing its players permanently. It will in fact incur a double loss, because the IPL pays 10% of every player's contract fees to his national board - so the IPL contributes a substantial amount to the WICB coffers. In 2014, 11 West Indies players were signed by various IPL franchises. Four of them, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard were retained by their respective franchises before the season.

Since the 2014 season, the IPL authorities have decided to switch the player contracts with the franchises from three years to a year. This would mean that in case of an informal directive, there will be no technical hassles if the IPL teams are to release all their West Indian cricketers. However, it won't be so easy, as pointed out by a franchise official, considering the "brand value" of many Caribbean cricketers.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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