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The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has challenged the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) directive, which prevents outstation players from participating in T20 leagues, saying it exhibits "a complete and utter disregard" for the interests of players, depriving them of the opportunity to "earn a living" and "showcase their talents to the world". The state association further accused the CoA of arbitrariness and malice in forming the rule.
TNCA's response came after the CoA wrote an email to the association asking that it desist from having outstation players play in the 20-over Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) following the strict guidelines issued for domestic T20 leagues.
TNCA had wanted outstation players to be able to participate in the TNPL, but the guidelines not only barred that, but also further said that all support staff and match officials part of any league also had to be from the home association.
The CoA said that in its communique to the TNCA that "pursuant to the decision of the working committee at its meeting(s) held on 13th August 2009 and 24th June 2016, BCCI does not grant permission to any member to allow participation of players from outside the jurisdiction of the said member in the T20 tournament being organised or conducted by any member. This decision has been consistently applied/enforced since 2009 by refusing permission to other state associations like the Karnataka State Cricket Association and the Goa Cricket Association as well as in respect of the second edition of the TNPL in 2017."
At the BCCI's SGM on June 22, which the CoA later ruled as invalid, the BCCI members had passed a resolution to "consider and to take decisions on the T20 tournaments hosted and organised by state associations". A member present at the SGM told ESPNcricinfo that the plan was to allow a maximum of two players per team. In the case of the TNPL, this would have meant 16 players at the most. "How will giving 16 players who haven't got an opportunity to play in the IPL be detrimental?" the member said. "This would have benefitted cricketers."
Another association member present at the meeting said that the plan was to only allow those players, who had not played either for India, or in the IPL, in the preceding year, to participate in the TNPL. Moreover, such players would be restricted to participating in only two T20 leagues in the year, their home association's T20 league and one other, or any two if their home association did not have a T20 league.
The TNCA based its decision to have players from out of the state in the TNPL citing the banned SGM, and also said that Amitabh Choudhary, the acting BCCI secretary, had been apprised of the tournament and necessary particulars "well in advance". It also said that the BCCI's Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) head had arrived in Chennai on Thursday to conduct a session on implementing the anti-corruption code, "which belies the position taken by the Committee that it is an unapproved tournament."
It also pointed out in its letter that outstation players had been taking part in Tamil Nadu state-run tournaments since several decades.
"Even currently the TNCA league has several "outstation" players playing within its jurisdiction and this has been so for several decades. Eminent former crickets such as Sunil Gavaskar, M A K Pataudi, Salim Durrani, M L Jaishimha, G R Viswanath have played in TNCA tournaments like Buchi Babu," the TNCA wrote.
"Brijesh Patel, K R Rajagopal, Sunil Valson, Vivek Razdan have played in 1st Division League and the like. Likewise players like Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad, Vikram Rathore, Venkatapathy Raju, Arshad Hyub, Suith Somasundar, have continued to play till recently. Even currently players like Piyush Chawla, Sandeep Sharma, Robin Bist, Srikar Bharath, A G Pradeep still play in league tournament at TNCA." However, the tournaments that the TNCA has mentioned aren't in the T20 format.
An official close to the developments in TNCA said that the body would try to negotiate with the CoA so that a mutually satisfactory solution for all could be worked out, but he did admit that if the CoA were to withhold permission for outstation players despite everything, it was likely that the TNPL would have to proceed without them since the players themselves might not be comfortable taking part in the tournament in those circumstances.