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Indian cricketers sign ICC contract

MUMBAI: Fears about a second-string Indian team representing India at the World Cup have been laid to rest. All the 15 members of the Indian World Cup squad today signed the International Cricket Council (ICC) Players Terms' contract for the cricket carnival starting on 8 February.

However, the cricketers signed only after declaring their non-acceptance to a few contentious clauses and their agreement is subject to two main riders, sources claim. The sources also add that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and ICC have agreed to the above conditions.

The signed forms are now being sent to the BCCI which will forward it to the ICC, the Press Trust of India has reported. The ICC deadline for signing the contract was 14 January.

The cricketers are willing to persuade their sponsors not to air conflicting advertisements during the World Cup, and signed the contract only to that effect after making their position on the contentious issues clear.

"We are in contact with the BCCI. We have told the ICC what our problems are. We have given our terms and conditions. There are certain areas that need to be looked into," Sourav Ganguly was quoted as saying in the PTI report.

"We all feel that, at the end of the day, it's got to be an adjustment from both the sides. It can never be one-sided, whether it is the players or the ICC," Ganguly was quoted as saying. "We have made our statement clear... this is what we can do and this is what we can't. The rest is up to them."

SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta reacted by stating: "It is a great relief. There won't be any last-minute controversies or surprises now."

MAX executive vice president and business head Rajat Jain says: "Excellent news! The Indian team's decision to sign the agreement is a step in the right direction. It also ensures that there is no doubt or confusion in the minds of millions of Indian cricket fans. Now, the best Indian team will take a crack at the World Cup."

Mudra Optimum Media Solutions's executive vice president Amit Ray however, struck a discordant note: "If the news reports about the Indian cricketers persuading their sponsors to avoid airing conflicting advertisements are true, then it sets a bad precedent. The hapless sponsors had backed the cricketers and invested humungous amounts with the hope that they would be able to cash in on the cricketer's popularity during high profile events such as the World Cup. Advertisers will think twice before signing on cricketers in the future."

Another media executive who refused to be quoted claims that the cricketers "should have had the guts to stick to their guns" or "should not raised the issue in the first place if they were eventually going to sign."

Percept Advertising CEO Rajesh Pant has an interesting viewpoint: "The challenge for clients is to ensure that they conceptualise advertisements that break through the clutter and create an impact. For instance, the Coke Aamir Khan commercial aired during the Champions Trophy in September 2002 was successful in ensuring that Coke managed to hold its own against the official sponsors Pepsi. Even the viewers lapped it up. Do the viewers remember the Pepsi ads aired during the same time?"

Incidentally, Percept D'Mark are the marketing agents managing cricketers such as Saurav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif. Percept's Shailendra Singh and D'Mark's Sanjay Lal were however unavailable for comment.

It looks as if the hurdles have been overcome and it is time for the Indian cricket team to concentrate on winning the World Cup. After all, money simply cannot buy the "honour" of entering the history books and being part of the winning team of World Cup 2003!

ICC attorneys issue caution notice to protect official sponsors

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