ICC welcomes BCCI decision to announce squad by Dec. 31

London Dec. 25. Brushing aside India's reservations to its `final offer' on the contracts issue, the International Cricket Council today welcomed Indian Cricket Board's decision to honour December 31 deadline for announcing the 15-member squad for the next year's World Cup.

ICC President Malcolm Gray said in a statement that the world body was seeking nothing more than what the BCCI had committed to when it signed its Participating Nations Agreement for the event in March this year.

``The BCCI committed to a series of obligations in its PNA and the most immediate one is to name its squad by December 31. It is pleasing (to know) that it will meet this obligation,'' Gray said.

``The critical issue is to ensure that the best team represents India at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003. That is what the players want. This is what the people of India want and this is what the rest of the cricketing world wants.

``It is now up to the BCCI to make sure that this happens. It has the right and responsibility to select its team and to ensuring that its players play under the terms that the BCCI first agreed with ICC in March 2002 and which the ICC has subsequently negotiated a number of substantial concessions to,'' he said.

Official sponsors reject BCCI appeal

Meanwhile, rejecting an appeal by Cricket Board to make concessions in their sponsorship rights to allow Indian cricketers with conflicting commercial deals to take part in the World Cup, the official sponsors today said the appeal should have been directed at the competing companies.

``He should be making this appeal to companies that have contracted the players. That way it would be easier to find a solution,'' Ganesh Mahalingam, GM (Marketing), LG Electronics, said ruling out making any concessions.

``We will be ready to dilute our rights if Mr. Dalmiya ensures that we are offered $15 million as compensation - 50 per cent of the money we have invested into World Cup. ``We haven't pumped in so much money to forego our rights,'' he said.

The players' contracts for ICC events has certain restrictive clauses which bar cricketers from endorsing companies in conflict of interest with the official sponsors.

The players have refused to sign the contract and BCCI today appealed to the sponsors to make some concessions.

Another official sponsor, Hero Honda, also rejected the appeal, saying the contracts should be binding on the players.

``I think all the sponsors need to sit together and discuss the problem. It is a very delicate matter,'' said Atul Sobti, Senior Vice-President (Marketing and Sales), Hero Honda Motors.