India's U-19 stars, currently setting the stands on fire in the World Cup at Kuala Lumpur, will have to wait a while before they can rake in the big bucks at the Indian Premier League.
Delhi boy and a former member of the India U-19 team, Ishant Sharma, hit the IPL jackpot when he was snapped up by Kolkata for a whopping Rs 3.2 crore. His mates, however, might not be that lucky. Worried that the megabucks on offer will spoil the young stars, many of whom are already the objects of massive price wars between franchisees, the BCCI on Saturday issued a directive to all U-19 cricketers not to sign up until further notice.
IPL chairman Lalit Modi told
: "We are not allowing any U-19 players to sign up with a franchisee as of now." Asked what would happen to contracts already signed, Modi said, "They will be null and void."
The Board, it is understood, is worried about the size of the cheques the franchisees are throwing at the impressionable youngsters, and is planning to monitor and cap the offers. "We want the players to concentrate on their game and not be distracted by the hype of the IPL," Premier League CEO Sundar Raman said.
To get around the problem of turf battles being waged for young players, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told
that the Board would allow U-19 players to turn out only for franchisees from the area they belong to.
This change in ruling means that the India's U-19 stars — currently playing the World Cup in Malaysia — are no longer free agents. A Virat Kohli or a Pradeep Sangwan can now play only for the Delhi Daredevils. Likewise for U-19 opener, Uttar Pradesh's Tanmay Srivastava, who had signed with Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata team. He would now have to play for Delhi too.
It has been learnt that a couple of franchisees were "unhappy" with the way U-19 players were being "poached" by rivals. "We do not want these youngsters to be poached by franchisees, they should not have to deal with the IPL or its agents," said Shah.
This ruling, however, is only limited to U-19 players. "There is no bar on franchisees signing up U-22 players, we were concerned about the U-19s and therefore decided to take this step," said Shah. And frankly, this one at least makes perfect sense.