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Minister to negotiate with T&T's IPL players

By Roger Seepersad

Will Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo be available to play for Trinidad and Tobago in the 2012 Champions League Twenty20?

That is the question that will be on the minds of many T&T fans after Narine's Kolkata Knight Riders, Bravo's Chennai Super Kings and Pollard's Mumbai Indians all qualified from the Indian Premier League (IPL) for this year's Champions League.

Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) chairman of selectors and recently-appointed cricket operations manager Dudnath Ramkessoon could not confirm on Sunday whether or not Pollard, Bravo and Narine would be playing for T&T in the Champions League this year, but stated that Minister of Sport Anil Roberts would be handling the situation with the conclusion of the 2012 IPL.

Last year there was confusion over Pollard and Bravo's availability to play for T&T in the Champions League, which caused a row between the TTCB and the Minister, but this year, Ramkesssoon said: "The Minister will negotiate with the players. He will have discussions with them.

"The Minister said that after the IPL he would handle the situation," Ramkessoon added.

Roberts and TTCB president Azim Bassarath buried the hatchet after T&T won the Caribbean T20 earlier this year to qualify for the Champions League for the second consecutive year.

Bassarath, at the launch of the ongoing Premiership T20 Festival, said: "We are aware of the economic barriers that may be placed in the path of our marquee players, but our Minister of Sport has promised to deliver them to Team Trinidad and Tobago. We are confident he will serve the needs of our people."

If the trio end up playing for their IPL franchises, then the TTCB stands to gain US$150,000 each, as was the case last year when they received payments for Bravo and Pollard.

Mumbai, who won the Champions League last year, finished fourth in this year's IPL to qualify for the Champions League.

Chennai were runners-up in the IPL and Kolkata won the tournament to clinch the top two Champions League qualifying spots. Delhi Daredevils were third in the IPL and also qualified for the Champions League.

Last year, the fourth-placed IPL team along with the West Indies' T20 champions (T&T), the New Zealand winners, the Sri Lankan winners and the winners and runners-up of England's T20 competition had to play a six-team pre-tournament qualifier with the top three teams moving into the main competition.

So far, no changes to the format have been announced, meaning that Trinidad and Tobago will most likely have to play the qualifiers again and this time around coach Kelvin Williams could be without three of his top players.

Last year, Bravo and Pollard did not represent T&T in the Champions League, which gave all-rounder Kevon Cooper and spinner Narine the opportunity to come to the fore. Both players were sold in the 2012 IPL auction, with Cooper being scooped up by Rajasthan Royals and Narine going to Kolkata.

Even without Pollard and Bravo, T&T managed to qualify for the main tournament last year and narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot after two close defeats.

Cooper should be available for T&T for this year's Champions League as Rajasthan did not qualify for the tournament.

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