Players to be asked for agents' names
The BCCI's plan to regulate player agents, announced on Sunday, will begin with the centrally contracted players being asked to submit the names of their agents for the accreditation process. Sunday's announcement, three days after the arrest of three Rajasthan Royals players on allegations of spot-fixing during the IPL, marks the first time the board has officially recognised the existence of player' agents.
The BCCI believes accrediting player agents will help them distinguish between genuine agents and others, and its change of stance is said to have been prompted by the presence of close friends of Sreesanth, one of the arrested cricketers, in Royals' team hotel through much of the tournament.
Jiju Janardhan, an alleged bookie who was arrested, is believed to be Sreesanth's friend since their stint at the MRF Pace Academy almost a decade ago. Janardhan has been staying regularly in Royals' hotel, and has been allegedly posing as Sreesanth's agent with the betting mafia.
While Jiju's case has been exposed, many "close friends" and "agents" of regular India cricketers constantly accompany them, and are booked in the team hotel wherever the Indian team travels.
"We will ask all the players to let us know who their agents are so that it would be easier for the ACSU officials to bifurcate between those who are in touch with cricketers constantly," a BCCI official said.
They hope to soon expand it and get all affiliated units to do the same when it comes to domestic circuit first, before filtering it down to age-group cricket as player agents have started playing a major role in junior cricket, especially since the advent of IPL.
"There's a need to regulate that aspect," the official said. "We've to collect information about all the player agents so that the BCCI is aware of who are the people that are involved, and it would be easier to track the involvement of players with those who also stay in the same hotel where the team is put up."
The BCCI has always shared a topsy-turvy relationship with player agents. Agents are alleged to have played an influential role in national team's selection in the past. In 2007, the BCCI had barred then chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar from writing syndicated columns for newspapers. The columns were syndicated by a sport management company owned by one of the major player agents.
The BCCI contemplated cracking the whip on player agents in the wake of India's disastrous 2007 World Cup by announcing a cap on a player's endorsements before backtracking on it. Even then, all of BCCI's official media releases used to be regularly copied to a few player agents.
Soon after the conclusion of the inaugural IPL edition, the BCCI warned junior cricketers against some player management firms who were trying to lure talent into signing for them with an assurance of getting an IPL contract. One of the clauses in the contracts that were being offered maintained that the players had to pay the agency 20% of all earnings "including match fees".
The board's announcement comes three years after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) put in place a new anti-corruption mechanism in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal that resulted in the imprisonment of three Pakistan cricketers.
One of the first rules instituted was the agents' registration system, which was drafted by the PCB legal head Taffazul Rizvi. Under the new rule every PCB contracted player, both international and domestic, must be represented by a registered agent.
The PCB also put a cap on the number of players an agent could represent. In addition, Zaka Ashraf, the tech savvy PCB head, pushed for a security and vigilance department to provide cover to the players. In fact a vigilance officer is currently travelling with the Pakistan squad on their trip to the United Kingdom.
One of the main requirements that the PCB has placed on the agent is that they cannot have any prior criminal record. If it is an overseas agent, they need to get clearance from the Pakistan High Commission.
Cricket Australia, in fact, has one of the most sound agent accreditation systems around. The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) and CA have "agreed to introduce a compulsory scheme for the accreditation and regulation of player agents representing professional cricketers in Australia.
"Under the memorandum of understanding, the ACA and CA have agreed that, as from April 1, 2013 (with only limited exceptions), CA, state associations, BBL teams and the ACA will only deal with accredited agents in player contract discussions," the CA website says. As of now, 26 agents have been accredited under this scheme.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo