Rajasthan Royals reinstatement… or not

Rajasthan Royals are on the verge of reinstatement to the Indian Premier League following their challenge to alleged infringement of franchise ownership rules. The inaugural IPL champions were last month barred from the fourth season in 2011 – along with King’s XI Punjab – but have made detailed submissions of their evolving corporate structure to the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The Royals are part-owned by British businessman Manoj Badale while their chief executive is Sean Morris, the former Hampshire cricketer and ex-chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association. Rajasthan came under scrutiny, however, because Raj Kundra, another of their co-owners, is the brother-in-law of discredited former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. Some saw the expulsion as an attempt by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to sever all links with Modi. In their defence, the franchise point out that ‘the only subsequent change to our ultimate ownership structure was the approved addition of Raj Kundra’s stake (11.7%) which diluted all shareholders equally. This was notified to the BCCI in February 2009 and the requisite fee paid to the BCCI’. They have provided a full list of these shareholders, and are confident of having their expulsion overturned, at the expense of new team Kochi, whose financial position is already under scrutiny before they have bowled a ball. Such a reprieve would give serious credence to captain Shane Warne’s motto ‘we can win from anywhere’.

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The England players’ positive thoughts in the build-up to the first Ashes Test in Brisbane has provided a refreshing contrast to the tentative talk of previous trips. Andrew Strauss’s team have a new man getting into their head space in psychologist Mark Bawden, whose remit ends before the second match in Adelaide. Bawden has experience of five Olympic Games and was engaged by the ECB earlier this year through links with the English Institute of Sport. Long-term psychologist Steve Bull, who has been on several previous Ashes tours, continues to work with the academy and age group teams.

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Iain O’Brien’s rejection as a qualified player has highlighted what an absurd world we live in. Former New Zealand Test bowler O’Brien’s wife Rosie is English and he quit international cricket to set up home with her in England. His initial application to be considered as a local, allowing him to fulfil a three-year contract with Middlesex, was rejected by the ECB ahead of the 2010 season, however, as the fact he had played for his country in the previous 12 months meant he did not meet the criteria. He would now qualify on that score, and neither has he played domestically as a Kiwi. But there is a far more stringent selection process these days following a European Commission judgment to empower sporting bodies with decisions on whether to allow foreigners into their system. Ironically, had O’Brien’s spouse been Italian or Spanish he would have had a stronger case under EU trade law.

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