PORT OF SPAIN – Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Sport Anil Roberts has said that all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, and spinner Sunil Narine will play for their country in the Champions League T20 this October instead of their respective IPL teams, in contrast to previous seasons.
However, their team affiliation at the tournament is likely to be debated further before being confirmed, with the franchises expected to fight for the three players.
Pollard was part of Mumbai Indians’ winning squad in 2011, while Bravo played for Chennai Super Kings. Both franchises have qualified for the CLT20 again this year. Narine played for T&T last year, but has also made it through with Kolkata Knight Riders in his maiden IPL season, in which he was named player of the tournament.
Roberts said an agreement had been reached with the three players to turn out for their national team and not their IPL franchise. CLT20 rules allow players to pick the team they wish to play for and in the past players had chosen their IPL franchises, which then compensated the players’ home teams.
However, the Knight Riders team director, Joy Bhattacharjya said on Twitter that the franchise’s chief executive, Venky Mysore, had indicated Narine would play for his IPL franchise.
Roberts said the players were close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding and following that the details of the individual contracts would be worked out.
“All three players have said they want to play for Trinidad & Tobago. The government of Trinidad & Tobago have said they will match their fees, so that they will not lose anything.
“We want the best team. Some of the Indian teams, the owners are obviously a bit upset because they would love to have Sunil Narine, Pollard, and Bravo but I told them quite upfront that we are being professional, that we are not holding anything in secret. We are not going to wait until the last minute and then steal the players from under them.”
Roberts also said he had spoken to the franchises to explain the government’s position.
“I also explained to them, because some of them are quite upset … I said, ‘please for a moment, just picture Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Sachin Tendulkar or [Suresh] Raina deciding or contemplating to play for a club ahead of India. I don’t think that would even be a choice. I don’t think they would even be able to set foot in their land of their birth if ever they even consider disappointing their countrymen and their country by playing for club for money’.
“So while they may be upset, I tell them I am very sorry they are upset, but the [T&T] population wants our best players, the government wants our best players. The players want to play for Trinidad & Tobago and they will play for Trinidad & Tobago.”
T&T topped their qualifying group in part thanks to the performances of Narine and fellow spinner Samuel Badree, but narrowly failed to qualify for the semi-finals. T&T will play the qualifying tournament again this year.