Sourav Ganguly’s agent seeks meeting with BCCI

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Shaken by allegations that the player-agent nexus is influencing the national team’s selection, the company that looks after the commercial interests of Sourav Ganguly has sought an unprecedented meeting with the cricket board chief to discuss the issue.

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Shailendra Singh, managing director of Percept D’Mark, has sought the meeting with board president Sharad Pawar to discuss allegations, levelled in the aftermath of the World Cup debacle, that some companies were influencing the selection of the national team.

“We would really appreciate if you could use your good offices to set up such an opportunity at the earliest, which would, of course, include interested corporates and the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) to deliberate on all related commercial issues to help in the process of defining policies for sponsorships and commercial support to cricket in India,” Singh said in his email, a copy of which is with IANS.

Obviously, Singh would like to put across his point on Ganguly’s alleged slow batting during India’s World Cup matches in the West Indies recently, which continues to raise a nationwide ruckus.

There were reports that according to one of the clauses in Ganguly’s contract with a sports clothing/equipment-manufacturing company, he would be paid more if he stayed at the crease for longer durations.

India lost two of the three matches and crashed out in the first round of the World Cup.

The allegation gained currency when Pawar said last week that youngsters had complained to him that some advertising companies were “trying to influence” team selection.

“When I got an opportunity to interact with some young players, they did mention that there are certain advertisement companies that are giving contracts to a group of players,” Pawar told a TV channel.

Later, the BCCI said in a statement that Pawar was not referring to Ganguly.

Ganguly scored 66 off 129 balls against Bangladesh, 89 off 114 balls against minnows Bermuda and seven off 23 balls against Sri Lanka.

He, along with Sachin Tendulkar, has been omitted for India’s first series after the World Cup, a tour of Bangladesh.

Singh has also sought Pawar’s permission to bring along the heads of the mainline companies that regularly sponsor Indian cricket and cricketers.

“We are of the strong belief, shared by many corporates and sponsors like Sahara India Pariwar, DLF, TCL, Microsoft, Nokia, Puma and others, that such a forum would go a long way in helping to find an enduring solution to many critical commercial issues that the sport faces today,” he wrote in his mail, a copy of which has been sent to all top firms like Sahara, Puma and Pepsi, that sponsor cricket in India.

“Such solutions would, of course, need to take into account the policies laid down by the BCCI and should also help further the goals and vision of BCCI for cricket in India.”

Singh points out that the sport needs financial support to succeed.

“This financial support fundamentally comes from two sources – the first being the followers and consumers of the game and the second being the sponsors and the media who in different ways help fund the sport.”

He said the continued support of these two “critical stakeholders” is “extremely important and critical”.

“While a lot has been said and deliberated, both in public and in the BCCI, on all other aspects of how the sport needs to be improved in India, these two stakeholder views seem to not feature in most deliberations so far,” he said.

Stating that the sport is bigger than any individual or entity, Singh said: “However, it is important that within those parameters, the BCCI should also provide an opportunity for the sponsors and the corporations, who also have a stake in the sport, to share their views.”

Singh said his meeting is aimed at defining commercial policy vis-à-vis Indian cricket.