BCCI did not exert pressure to outlaw ICL - Arendse

Imran Nazir clears the boundary with ease, Hyderabad Heroes v Lahore Badshahs, 3rd final, ICL, Ahmedabad, November 16, 2008
The ICL was banned by the BCCI, a decision endorsed by the ICC © ICL
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The ICC's endorsement on the banning of the ICL was not a result of arm-twisting by the BCCI, but of allowing its members autonomy in deciding which domestic tournaments to recognise, according to Norman Arendse, former CSA President. Arendse also confirmed that the ICC constitution was not changed in dealing with the ICL issue, as claimed by former IPL chairman Lalit Modi, but that clauses were added to its operating manual to clarify what constitutes disapproved cricket.
"There were no undue processes, incentives offered or pressure exerted on the ICC to outlaw the ICL," he told ESPNCricinfo, contradicting Modi's revelations that the BCCI essentially forced the global cricket community to freeze out the ICL.
Arendse, who served as CSA President in 2007 and 2008, was a member of the ICC's executive board at the time when the ICL and IPL were being conceptualised. "The issue of the IPL was tabled at an executive meeting," he said. "The BCCI informed the board of the ICL and the IPL and said that because the IPL was their creation, they were not prepared to endorse the ICL and give their players permission to play in it or for it to use their grounds."
The two 20-over leagues were the first sign that cricket was starting to venture into franchise territory and out of country-versus-country mode. The IPL presented the ICC with a never before experienced concern, because it was not simply a domestic competition, it would involve players from other countries and the potential existed for it to interrupt the international calendar. "There was concern at the time that there was a very real threat to international cricket and we could be seeing Kerry Packer number two," Arendse said.
The ICC's anxieties were fuelled because the idea of clubs leagues was mushrooming. "There was some talk of a franchise league being started in the USA and there was also an idea for an English Premier League. Actually, with money, they could start a league on the moon and it would work," Arendse said. That caused world's cricket's governing body to jolt into action to make sure the international game was safe.
"We had a lot of issues to discuss around it and questions for the BCCI," Arendse explained. "We had to ask the BCCI when they planned on hosting the tournament and if it would conflict with international touring commitments. For example, as CSA President, I was interested to find out if would clash with the South African summer."
With the questions arose a need for a policy to regulate the new competition. Arendse, an advocate by trade, was part of a three-man panel, which also included Giles Clarke, ECB chairman, and Modi whose function it was to draw up clauses regarding approved and unapproved cricket that would fall in line with the ICC's constitution. Arendse clarified that they were not tasked with redrafting the constitution, as Modi was quoted as saying. "The constitution was not changed at all," Arendse said. "That would have required a meeting with all the cricket playing countries who are affiliated to the ICC, not just the Full Members or Associates."
Arendse drafted the regulations, which came into effect on June 1 2009 and falls under section 32 of the ICC Operating Manual. "The ICC's rules have to be in accordance with UK law so we sought the advice of British solicitors in drawing up the regulations." Section 32.1.1 states that a match will be regarded as disapproved if "it has not been approved by the Member in whose territory it is played," and other clauses under the regulation state that that member countries may not participate in or release their players for any disapproved cricket.
The regulations take credence of the autonomy of member boards, which ultimately means that member countries have the right to make decisions regarding which tournaments they chose to sanction, independent of ICC interference. "If the BCCI has sanctioned both the ICL and the IPL, that would have been none of our business either and we would have had nothing to do with it," Arendse explained.
It also explains why the ICC will recognise the new Sri Lankan Premier League, even if it is part-privately owned. "If the SLC sanctions the tournament, the ICC will approve of it. Any non Sri Lankan players who want to play in the event have to get no objections certificates from their home board to approve their participation, but the ICC will recognise the tournament and all the other boards will too."
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Fletcher to avoid dictatorial approach

Newly-appointed India coach Duncan Fletcher addresses the media, Chennai, May 13, 2011
Duncan Fletcher: "You have to gain their respect and they have to gain my respect" © AFP
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Duncan Fletcher, the new Indian coach, has said that his coaching philosophy will not be dictatorial in approach but will be about offering advice to the players. Fletcher also pointed out that he had mentored Gary Kirsten and that was one of the main reasons that influenced Kirsten to recommend him for the post and for the BCCI to appoint him.
"It's not about dictating to the Indian players how I want them to play - sure to some degree you have to try influencing them - but it's about offering advice to the players and it's up to them to take it on board," Fletcher said in his first news conference as India's coach in Chennai. "Gary Kirsten followed my philosophy. He came and spoke to me before he took up the Indian job. I offered him advice on how to handle situations and he took that on board. And now, by Gary sort of pushing me for this job by taking my credentials to BCCI, he realised that my philosophy of coaching is right for India. Hopefully it's right."
Fletcher said that he has been observing the Indian players over the last few months during his role as batting consultant to South Africa and New Zealand and reiterated that he was not going to make any wholesale changes. According to him, the most important thing would be to gain the respect of the players and he said that works both ways. "You have to gain their respect and they have to gain my respect. And that's what this is about. Once you have that then it makes your job easier. It's something you just have to work on as time progresses. I have worked with some big players elsewhere as well and you just got to develop this man-management process.
"During the stint with South Africa and New Zealand I watched the Indian players. Sometimes I find more interest in quietly watching these players off the field and just observe because it interests me. "
A coach's relationship with the captain is the most crucial aspect of the job and Fletcher said he wouldn't have taken up the role if he didn't respect [MS] Dhoni as a captain. "It's quite important that even before I was offered this job I had high regard for Dhoni. In fact I wrote a few articles which showed how I rated him as a very very good captain - not only on the field but how he handles the players off it."
India's bowling is considered the team's weak link and Fletcher said he has had an extensive chat with Eric Simons, the bowling coach, on May 12 about the bowlers and also met with Dhoni. "Having chatted with Eric Simons - he is a very good bowling coach and one I have lot of faith in - you must understand that I don't want to come in and make lots of changes. I have the players during India's last tour of South Africa and the series against New Zealand; so I have some idea about the bowlers but I would want to observe a little bit and then make some decisions."
Fletcher said he was very excited taking up the coaching role and said he arrived at the decision after giving it a lot of thought and speaking to the likes of Kirsten. "I asked for four-five- days time from the board. It was just to make sure you settle down as there are some areas you have to be careful about because it's a high-profile role. I made a few calls, in particular to Gary Kirsten and I then accepted it."
India are the No.1 ranked Test team and ODI world champions and Fletcher admitted that it would be a challenge to maintain that momentum. "Yes, it will be difficult and that's one of the things you consider before taking up the job. Hopefully I can add value somewhere down the line. First West Indies, then we are going to England where there will be lots of swing and seam. Then Australia where there will be bounce. Hopefully, the knowledge I pass on will be effective."
Fletcher also had a brief taste of the Indian media and the Indian's board's iron-hand approach. Suddenly, out of the blue, he was asked about his views on DRS, a system that the Indian board has steadfastly opposed. "I think it's a system that will come in place. Obviously there are imperfections but once those imperfections are sorted out, it will play a role."
N Srinivasan, the board secretary, then leaned across and muttered something to Fletcher. Srinivasan, then, addressed the journalist who asked that question and said, "That was a loaded question. Mr Fletcher doesn't know BCCI's stance on DRS. You should have prefaced your question properly."
There was another instance of Srinivasan's interjection. When Fletcher was asked about his views on rotation policy, Srinivasan chose to answer: "It's a selection matter, no? He can give advice but ultimately it will come down to selectors. But I am sure when the coach sits in those meetings; his take will be taken on board by the selectors."
There was also a delightful faux pas from Fletcher. "Hopefully, my observations on these players will prove useful when I coach the England team. I mean the Indian team."
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Fwd: Kolkata go top with convincing win

May 01, 2011
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Gautam Gambhir plays a slog-sweep, Kolkata Knight Riders v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2011, Kolkata, April 30, 2011 © Associated Press

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New-look Kolkata turn it around

Four months ago, Gautam Gambhir's name was the first to come out of the hat at the IPL player auction. Gambhir had been a solid but unspectacular performer for Delhi Daredevils over the first three years, and while he was expected to be sought after, what happened next would surprise everyone. Gambhir's price didn't merely rise, it skyrocketed. First, it went past $1 million. Then $1.5 million. Then $2 million, the most ever bid in the IPL. When the dust settled, Kolkata Knight Riders were the last team standing, having pushed Gambhir's value to $2.4 million. Sold!
Kolkata followed that up by buying Yusuf Pathan for $2.1 million and Jacques Kallis for $1.2 million. In 45 minutes they had spent 62% of their salary cap on three players. It looked like madness. But there was a method in there; one that was intended to transform Kolkata from headline-making also-rans to actual championship contenders.
Halfway through the league stage, Kolkata sit in second place on the points table, sandwiched between last year's finalists, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, and have been a fixture in the top four since they beat Rajasthan Royals in their third game. If they can build on their strong start, the only franchise to have never qualified for the IPL semi-finals should have every chance of erasing that record.
It had all looked so promising back in 2008. Shah Rukh Khan gave Kolkata star appeal, and with human headline Sourav Ganguly at the helm, the team seemed destined for big things. Only, somebody forgot to read the script. In their first three seasons Kolkata finished sixth, last and sixth.
Their misery was compounded by their endless ability to attract controversy. There was the Fake IPL Player blogger, who turned the franchise into a running joke; coach John Buchanan's multiple-captain theory; and Ganguly's quarrels with Buchanan and Brendon McCullum. Kolkata had all the drama and intrigue of a Bollywood blockbuster, but without the box office success.
"The team had to change," Arun Lal, former India and West Bengal opener, told ESPNcricinfo.
Only, this was no simple job. The house that Shah Rukh built needed more than a fresh coat of paint. It needed to be razed and rebuilt.
As its new head, the franchise hired Venky Mysore, who had 25 years of experience in the insurance business. Mysore had played cricket for Madras University and understood the game. The job was a way back into the sport for him. He took over as chief executive in September 2010, and quickly realised that the player auction provided the perfect opportunity for Kolkata to start over.
Mysore first asked his team to identify types of players that they wanted - gamechangers, fast bowlers, wicketkeeper-batsmen - rather than individuals. "You cannot afford to attach yourself to names when you are going with an auction strategy," Mysore told ESPNcricinfo. "It is much more the skill sets and the composition more generically."
The next step was to pick eight players for each position. Once they had assembled their wishlist, it was time to learn how to deal with auction pressure. "There is a certain panic that sets in when you get into that situation," Mysore says. To deal with that panic, the team conducted mock auctions in the weeks leading up to the event. Mysore wrote out what he thought the other teams' strategies would be and included them in their simulations.
By the end of the exercise they had a value for every player up for grabs in Bangalore. But even that wasn't good enough. Mysore wanted every edge he could find and decided to take a leaf out of a poker player's book. The best of them can read opponents, and tell from body language whether an opponent is bluffing or not. Mysore went to the BCCI, got videos of the first two auctions and studied them, looking for what are called "tells", signs that give away what another person may be thinking.
It was this detailed preparation that allowed them to feel confident about spending more than a quarter of their budget on one player. The team wanted, as part of their core, "a very good Indian player, a current international," according to coach Dav Whatmore. "There was a choice of probably four of these and we went for Gambhir."
Similarly Yusuf was someone Whatmore felt was "very important" to their plans of changing the team's fortunes, while Kallis was targeted for his proven ability in all forms of the game.
But lost in the glare of all the money being thrown around was that Kolkata bought plenty of talent on the cheap too - they picked up nine other players, each for $500,000 or less.
"Brett Lee is a case in point," Mysore says. "When we got him at base price [$400,000] I don't think too many people expected him to do what he did in the World Cup. But we had done our homework. He was training hard. He was as fit as he had ever been."
The core of Gambhir, Kallis, Yusuf and Lee was rounded out with of group of international and domestic players to fill a number of roles. England batsman Eoin Morgan and Netherlands' Ryan ten Doeschate add batting depth. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan is a second quality allrounder, while Brad Haddin, the Australian wicketkeeper-batsman, was to provide flexibility behind the stumps. Add the likes of Manoj Tiwary, Iqbal Abdulla and Lakshmipathy Balaji, and Kolkata had much talent and experience up and down the order.
The big decision, was, of course, letting Ganguly go. Perhaps only Sachin Tendulkar is as tied to the city of his birth as the Prince of Kolkata is. The decision, Mysore says, was based on cold cricketing logic. Any "retained" players would be locked in for two years, with the possibility of a third, and a 40-year Ganguly was always going to be a risk. A section of the fans did lash out at Kolkata for jettisoning their hero, but the team, Mysore said, always had to be more important than a single player.
Once the post-auction domestic signing frenzy had died down, Kolkata wound up with 20 names on its roster, the fewest among all the franchises. A smaller squad is easier to manage tactically and financially. "You look at a World Cup," Whatmore says. "You are playing in a tournament for roughly the same time and you have 15 players. The more you've got, the harder it is."
Lal backs up Whatmore's assessment that 20 is plenty. "I like this team," he says. "It has a lot of energy. It has great balance. It has terrific match-winners. Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan. Kallis is a great plus. Brett Lee can turn around a game on his day.

"Shakib can be very interesting. The IPL is being played in April and May on tired wickets, so you definitely need spinners."
It took the new-look Knight Riders three games to find themselves. They stumbled against Chennai Super Kings in the opener, and then barely hung on against Deccan Chargers to register their first win. But it all came together against Rajasthan. Chasing 160, Kolkata lost an early wicket but Gambhir and Kallis quelled any jangling nerves with an unhurried, unbeaten 152-run partnership.
Gambhir's leadership seems to have brought a quiet calm that was missing during Ganguly's tumultuous reign, while Kallis has provided the solidity at the top that Chris Gayle and McCullum, for all their explosiveness, lacked. They have delivered precisely the kind of goods for which the franchise shelled out all those millions.
The team followed their away win by thumping Rajasthan in the return game at Eden Gardens, and this time the bowlers were the stars. Led by Balaji, who uncorked one of the deliveries of the tournament to get rid of Shane Watson, they toppled Rajasthan for 81 and waltzed to victory. Gambhir was there at the end once again.
Having seen Kolkata demolish his team twice, Rajasthan chief executive Sean Morris needs no further convincing. He says Kolkata are a formidable side and expects them to be there at the business end of the tournament. "They have some of the best players in the world. Lots of variety in their bowling attack. They are a well-organised and well-run unit. I always thought they would be one of the top teams."
Kolkata are targeting a semi-final spot this season and Lal reckons they have a good shot at making the knockout stages. He ranks Mumbai Indians and Chennai as the best teams in the tournament, with Kolkata right behind, though he is quick to point out how unpredictable Twenty20 cricket can be. "I expected the last team to be successful. The cricketers all underperformed. Call it ill luck. Call it lack of gelling. Everything went wrong."
Kolkata stumbled against Kochi and Royal Challengers at home, but rebounded by beating Delhi Daredevils on Thursday. It was the lesser-known players who shone in the 17-run win: local boy Tiwary top- scored with 61, and Abdulla took three crucial wickets. Adbulla is now their leading wicket-taker this season with eight, the same as Yusuf, who has yet to shine with the bat but has delivered consistently with the ball. Meanwhile Tiwary has 194 runs at 97, just shy of Gambhir, with Kallis a little further ahead, emphasising the depth in this team.
The win over Delhi took Kolkata above Chennai on net run rate and into second place. Rubbing shoulders with the defending champions is a heady place for them to be, and early vindication for stripping the cupboard bare and restocking it.
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