The IPL appears to be headed for a showdown with the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), the influential players' lobby group, after rejecting its proposal to involve FICA representatives in fixing the tournament's security cover. The IPL has instead suggested that overseas players address their concerns through the league, its franchises or their respective home boards.
Tim May, FICA's chief executive, has warned that the umbrella body will now find it difficult to provide a "positive report" for players who seek its advice on their safety during the tournament in April following the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan team last week. The IPL's decision was conveyed to May over phone late last week by Sundar Raman, the league's chief executive.
The tussle between the IPL and FICA is bound to cloud the decision-making process of overseas players some of whom, like England's Kevin Pietersen and New Zealand's Jacob Oram, have said they would play in the tournament only after seeking an independent security assessment. FICA has on its membership rolls players' representatives from all Test-playing countries, except India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
"If players are not able to review the security procedures, then FICA will only be able to provide advice on the 'threat assessment' of the event," May told Cricinfo. "FICA will be unable to provide any comfort regarding 'security measures' that may mitigate these risks/threats due to the lack of disclosure of IPL. It will certainly make it more difficult for us to provide a positive report for the players."
IPL's Raman told Cricinfo the league was following the Chennai template of last year, under which England agreed to return to India in December for the two-Test series two weeks after the Mumbai attacks and played the first Test in Chennai under a security cover that included 1,500 local policemen and 150 central security personnel.
Sources in the BCCI, which runs the IPL, say the league told FICA it would address all players' concerns of but only if they directed their queries to the IPL, its franchises or their home boards.
However, May was categorical in rejecting the IPL's view. "The problem with the IPL approach is that, one, some governing bodies do not want to be involved in determining the security risk and have publicly stated this and, two, players are not experts in security matters," May said. "The IPL 'solution' does not allow the players to review these measures and to be able to appoint the representative that they want to perform this function."
Meanwhile, FICA's request for involvement in the IPL's security plan has received strong backing from two of its key constituents: the players' associations from Sri Lanka, which is still reeling from the Lahore attack, and England, whose players will be making their IPL debut next month.
While the Sri Lanka Cricketers Association (SLCA) said it hoped the IPL would sort out matters with FICA, England's Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) said there would be a "significantly higher level of reluctance" among players to play in the IPL without FICA's involvement in its security.
"Yes, we would like to have FICA involved as an independent body that can act on behalf of all player associations," Sean Morris, the PCA chief executive, said. "The players have confidence in FICA. International players are used to player representatives working with governing bodies in reviewing security arrangements for bilateral tours and ICC events; they derive a significant amount of comfort from the involvement and advice of the player association. Without such comfort, there would undoubtedly be a significantly higher level of reluctance to participate in such tours."
"We are sure that the IPL will sort out all issues with FICA," Graeme Labrooy, the SLCA chief executive, said. "Sri Lankan players are still recovering psychologically from the Lahore attack but they are very positive on travelling to India for the IPL. However, we are also looking at external security advice and we have some specific questions to ask regarding security."
Morris said he had spoken briefly to several England players about the security situation for the IPL. "They are concerned but want to wait for the security reports to be conducted before committing either way," he said. Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff are the top draws at this IPL starting on April 10 and will lead a contingent of six England players including Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and Dimitri Mascarenhas.