Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo
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Lalit Modi, the vice-president of the Indian cricket board and the man heading its commercial wing, reacted with indignation to suggestions that the board was "taking the players for granted" and that the board was not taking adequate steps to consult players over deals that it made for the team as a whole.
"The way they perceive it is me, me me," he thundered over the phone to Cricinfo. "It should take into account the whole system. What was abused in the past we're streamlining. The deals we make are with the good of cricket across the nation in mind. As far as the Indian cricketers are concerned, they are more than compensated by the 26% they are getting from the Nike deal."
Modi clarified that the board was well within its rights to sell T-shirts with individual players' names appearing on them, alongside the BCCI logo. "Every board in the world owns the attributes of its players," he said. "For example, in an ICC tournament, the ICC takes the attributes. Every cricket board, every team, owns the attributes of its players - the name, the board logo, the number. The number belongs to the board, not to the players. It is not a player's personal number."
Modi also rubbished suggestions that there was a clause in the players' contracts which bound the board to take the players into consultation before signing team deals. "There is no such thing as that," he said. "Why should we consult the players? It is the players who have to consult us before they sign individual deals, not the other way round.
"It is the players who have to tell us the amounts for which they have signed personal endorsements, and most have not done that. They're supposed to send us copies of the contracts they have signed individually and a majority have not done that."
Modi went one step further, saying, "In fact the contracts that they last signed are over. They should not push the envelope ..." He explained that the board could, if it really wanted to be tough, adopt the same anti-ambush-marketing guidelines that the ICC has. This means that a team or player cannot endorse any company competing with ICC's sponsors for a duration preceding and succeeding the event. If the board was to do that, it is difficult to see how any of the players would secure personal endorsement contracts.
On the suggestion that the players' rights and earning potential were being infringed upon by the deals the board made, Modi said, almost addressing the players, "You are getting more than what anyone else gets. That is because we have put you on such a platform. But do not take away something that is part of team spirit for a personal endorsement. It is important for everyone to understand that the interest of the board is paramount. Personal interests cannot supersede that."
Modi also sought to make one critical distinction between the BCCI and other international teams like, for example, Manchester United, the football club. "Remember that we are a non-profit organisation - 100% of the money that we make goes right back into the game, whether it is paying players salaries, putting the money in the board coffers and then taking it to the state associations, which in turn spend on infrastructure. It's not like a football club where an individual owns it and is raking in the profits."
The ball is now squarely back in the players' court.