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Players' associations slam IPL shut-out
The face-off between the IPL and overseas players' associations has intensified with representatives from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa joining their English and Sri Lankan counterparts in seeking direct involvement in the league's security management through the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA).

Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, has said the IPL would not talk directly to the FICA or the players' associations on the issue and suggested that they direct their queries or concerns through their respective home boards. The IPL has already rejected a request from FICA to be involved in the tournament's security management process.

However, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) termed it a "poor decision". The New Zealand Cricket Players' Association (NZCPA) said it was "disappointing" and "not normal practice elsewhere in the cricket world" while the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) said its players wanted the FICA to be involved in IPL security.

All the three players' associations confirmed that their players would be seeking their advice before deciding to participate in the IPL, especially after last week's attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore. They also suggested that the home boards may not have a significant role to play in the process as the IPL does not involve national teams.

Paul Marsh, the ACA's chief executive, and Heath Mills, his New Zealand counterpart, said they would not advise their players to participate in the tournament if the IPL did not revise its position. Tony Irish, SACA's CEO, said he failed to understand why the IPL wouldn't want the FICA to be involved in planning security for the event.

"Without this engagement, I'm not sure how we could look our players in their eyes and say that we believe it is safe to play in this year's event," Marsh told Cricinfo. "Not involving player associations in the security assessment process would be a poor decision by the IPL. While we are able to assess the general security threat without IPL cooperation, we simply cannot assess the security measures that will be in place around the event without the IPL engaging us in the process."

Mills warned that New Zealand players would be uncertain about participating in the IPL if the deadlock continued. "If FICA is not involved, the players will be uncertain about their participation in the IPL and will not be as confident and comfortable about the security situation as would otherwise be the case," Mills told Cricinfo.

Irish said he had spoken to the South African players who have demanded that FICA be involved. "We don't really understand why IPL would not want to work with FICA on this if that's what is going to bring the greatest degree of comfort to players," Irish told Cricinfo. "Yes, they (South African players) want the comfort of knowing that FICA is involved in dealing with the IPL on security and that they can rely on expert independent advice both on the environmental risks and security plans."

Asked if they would sort out the issue through their home boards, as suggested by IPL, the players' association chiefs suggested that the boards do not have a significant role to play in this situation. "I have spoken to Cricket Australia (CA), and whilst they want players to play in the safest possible environment, they see this as an issue for the ACA and the players involved," Marsh said.

"There is little New Zealand Cricket (NZC) can do to help as it is not their event," Mills said. According to Irish, it is a similar situation in South Africa: "SACA works very closely with Cricket South Africa (CSA) on security issues relating to the Proteas team. But this doesn't involve the team so the dynamic is different."

From the IPL's point of view, overseas players are not bound to go by their respective associations' opinion on the security aspect as long as their home boards give them the green signal. In fact, some players such as Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken have already confirmed that would be participating in the tournament.

According to Modi the IPL is utilising the services of Nicholls Steyn and Associates, the ICC's security consultants, who will ensure the security of overseas players "from the minute they reach India for the IPL to the minute they leave". He also said that the IPL has increased its security budget "ten-fold from the last year".

However, if the IPL is not able to bring these players' associations on board, it is likely to affect the participation of several cricketers, including New Zealand's Jacob Oram and England's Kevin Pietersen, who have said they would go by independent security assessments.

All the three players' association chiefs admitted that some players may be tempted to participate in the IPL despite security concerns because of the large amount of money involved. "For some this may happen but one only needs to see what happened to the Sri Lankan players last week to give some proper perspective on things," Irish said. "Many players recognise this."

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