IPL news February 17, 2012

Franchises oppose foreign-player allowance to Pune

The BCCI's decision to ask Sahara to seek the "consent" of the other eight IPL franchises for fielding a fifth foreign player in their playing XI has met with an unfavourable response from the rival teams. Most of the eight squads are against stretching the rules to make allowances for the Pune Warriors, and felt that the agreement reached between the BCCI and Sahara appeared quite "short term."

The joint statement by both parties issued on Thursday after their truce has sought the approval of the franchises in two of the eight points of agreement. One was about Warriors' request to play a fifth foreign player in their XI as a replacement for Yuvraj Singh, who is being treated for cancer and the other about being allowed to buy players outside those included in the auction. While they did not object to the latter, they objected to allowing the Warriors to play five foreign players in their playing XI - and asked why the board had put the onus on the team owners.

A franchise official said, "The BCCI was keen to make the deal (with Sahara). They should have said 'this is the rule' or 'this is not the rule'. By saying it is upto the other franchises it has become an emotional thing," he said. He said it was not the most pleasant of situations and had put "the other teams in a bind." The change in the decision regarding the inclusion of five foreign players was explained in the statement as, "Notwithstanding the recent working committee decision rejecting 5 foreign players in the playing XI, in consideration of the exceptional circumstance and the non-availability of Mr. Yuvraj Singh, Sahara has offered to obtain the consent of all the franchises for the submission to the BCCI," the statement read.

The franchise official feared that even if both the BCCI and Sahara had patched up, the situation still contained several loopholes. "If you look at the points in the joint statement, in half of those issues it is mentioned BCCI needs to consider. So the sense I get is it is a short-term arrangement." To the officials, there was absence of clarity and direction on the part of the BCCI.

The board's approach, according to another team official, had set a precedent, "To me rules are rules, something emotions can't buy. That is why you have got a number of Indian players as back-up. What if a prominent, current Indian player breaks his finger in the first IPL game. Then what do you do. Where do you stop it?" Asked why the franchises would oppose specifically to a fifth foreigner, the coach said the experience of the previous four seasons indicated that a foreign player could be more influential than the average domestic Indian players. "Basically what you [the Warriors] are saying is we don't have enough Indian players to match the quality of the foreigner. And that is why I am actually asking for a fifth guy," he said.

While another franchise official said that the Warriors found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, exceptions could not be made. "If five foreigners are [allowed] for them, then it should be for everybody." An exception had already been made by allowing the Warriors to pick up international players outside the unsold auction pool.

Only one prominent franchise official did not object to five foreign players in the XI. "This is in my personal capacity but if it is just for one year I don't think it should be a problem. Especially if a team is losing out on the services of a player like Yuvraj Singh," he said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo