Indian Premier League February 25, 2008

Franchises to get first preference for U-19 players

Niranjan Shah: "Franchises will be given a preference to pick U-19 players from their own catchments" © Getty Images

Each of the franchises in the Indian Premier League will get the first option for picking Under-19 players from their own catchment areas, the Indian board has said. The decision comes in the wake of franchises voicing concerns over player-poaching, with local players being lured by other teams.

"Under-19 domestic cricketers will not be allowed to join any team on their own and franchises will have to go through the BCCI," Niranjan Shah, the board secretary, said. "Franchises will be given a preference to pick players from their own catchments and it's only the spill-over players that will be available for the rest.

"We will give each franchise a certain time-frame to pick their players. It's only after that period that others can try for them."

Delhi and Jaipur had raised concerns that their local catchment players are being "poached" by the rival teams. The Jaipur team even sent a letter to the IPL council. The BCCI's move was welcomed by some of the franchises.

"One of the reasons for this exercise was to develop young talent across the country and that can only be done by giving franchises a choice of picking their local players," TA Sekar, cricket operations chief of GMR Holdings, the owners of the Delhi Daredevils, told Cricinfo. "Imagine if a franchise develops three or four players through the junior ranks, only to see them play for another team because they are being offered more money. The purpose is defeated."

VB Chandrashekar, the selector for the Chennai Super Kings, and Fraser Castellino, the CEO of the Jaipur franchise, were also upbeat but wished the ruling covered U-22 players as well, instead of being limited to U-19.

The process is likely to take place in the beginning of March, with the board not keen to "distract" India's Under-19 cricketers currently taking part in the World Cup in Malaysia.

One-year contracts

To counter the rising concern over young cricketers being paid so much money early in their careers, the board decided Under-19 cricketers would be eligible only for a one-year contract.

The board had earlier instructed all junior domestic cricketers to not sign up on an individual basis after many franchises complained about player-agents getting involved, demanding higher sums even after the cricketers had agreed on a figure. The board was also concerned that a few agents had landed in Malaysia to tie up with India's U-19 cricketers.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo