Sri Lanka news June 24, 2011

BCCI reiterates decision to stay away from SLPL

The BCCI has refused to change its stance on preventing Indian players from taking part in the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) despite Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) offering bank guarantees to safeguard the Indian players' contracts. The two boards held a telephone conference on Thursday to discuss the issue, but were unable to come to an agreement. SLC, however, is expected to go ahead with the tournament as scheduled without the Indian players.

The BCCI had withheld its permission on the grounds that Somerset Entertainment Ventures, the company owning the commercial rights for the SLPL, would be handling the contracts for international players and that could lead to complications should disputes arise over payments. In order to assuage the Indian board, SLC were willing to back the Indian players' contracts so that their financial interests were protected, but that was not enough to satisfy the BCCI.

The BCCI's decision means the tournament will not have a broadcaster for the lucrative Indian market, a situation that makes it much more difficult for the SLPL to find a secure financial footing.

"It is their decision and we cannot force them to change their position," Sri Lanka's sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told Daily News & Analysis. "We knew that India was not going to change its stand. That was the reason why we did not go to India. We made an attempt to convince them, but the BCCI told us that it cannot reverse its stand. They seem to have some apprehensions over the tournament."

The minister also told the Times of India that Lalit Modi was the reason the BCCI did not want to be part of the tournament. "The Indian board told us they couldn't send their players for SLPL because they felt Modi is involved in this event. The BCCI also said that Modi is the third party and is working behind the scenes."

The BCCI's stand is contrary to that of the Australian, South African, New Zealand and Pakistan boards, which have all extended their support to the tournament. Tim May, the chief executive of Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), also backed the event. In a statement, May said that the association had negotiated the terms and conditions of SLPL player contracts with Somerset.

"FICA approved the final form of the player contract in January 2011," the statement read. "FICA's approval of the player contracts was communicated to all player associations in January. I am very surprised to see reports from the Indian media, that BCCI do not believe that players should sign the player contracts - that is certainly not the opinion of FICA or our legal advisors, and it is our charter to protect all players and to ensure that player contracts for events around the world are in acceptable form to protect player interests."

May also said he had a letter from SLC confirming that the event is an official SLC tournament and is fully sanctioned by the ICC. Daniel Vettori, Kevin O'Brien, Shahid Afridi, Kieron Pollard and David Warner are some of the international players expected to take part. The winner of the tournament is still expected to play in the Champions League Twenty20 in September.

SLC consistently denied the SLPL is a private-party organised tournament, saying it is owned and approved by SLC - and so, automatically, by the ICC. It said that Singapore-based Somerset Ventures only owns the commercial rights to the tournament. It also denied that Modi has anything to do with the event.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo