The Indian board is confident the current contracts-related tussle between the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Cricket Australia "will be resolved by Saturday evening". The dispute, which has put the participation of top Australian players in the BCCI-backed IPL in some doubt, revolves round protecting the rights of the Australian team's global sponsors during the tournament, which will be telecast live by Channel Ten in Australia.
"It's not a conflict situation any longer. We are looking at a resolution now," a senior board official told Cricinfo. "In fact, we expect Cricket Australia to make an announcement in this regard by Saturday."
The mood seemed to find echo in Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, who said on Thursday he wanted Australian players in the IPL. "We are approaching this with an open mind on trying to resolve the issue in a manner which allows the IPL to go ahead with Australian player participation, when available," he told AFP.
The statements represent a softening of stand by both sides after the hardline stands taken in the past few weeks. Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, has repeatedly stated there will be no compromise on the issue, and Cricket Australia has refused to clear its players for the IPL till the issue is sorted out. The tussle reached a flashpoint on Tuesday with Modi saying the IPL will sign on Australian players even if they are not cleared by Cricket Australia.
The Indian board expects some clarity to emerge on Australia's impending Test tour to Pakistan before Sunday, which is the IPL's deadline for players to sign up for the tournament starting April 18. Cricket Australia's security advisors have warned against going ahead with the tour and a cancellation will enable the biggest names, including Ricky Ponting, the captain, and fast bowler Brett Lee, to appear for the IPL.
Meanwhile, the Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) has endorsed the players' contract offered by the IPL. "I can confirm that I am now satisfied in principle with the form of the IPL Player Contract," FICA's chief executive, Tim May, said in a statement on Thursday. "I am waiting to see a copy of the final draft of the agreement, following which I anticipate recommending to our members that the agreement is satisfactory for players to enter."