I have kissed it at least a thousand times, yet I can’t quench my thirst,” Yuvraj Singh declared his love for cricket’s ultimate prize – the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy – at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel on Saturday night. For some time Monday morning, Yuvraj Singh might have felt a little less love for the trophy, with media reports circulating that the silverware he smothered was not the real thing, but a replica.
A whole lot of confusion and two clarifications later, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the government claimed that Yuvraj’s object of affection was indeed the real thing. And that it was a case of all out for no loss.
It all started on Monday morning when news reports said the real trophy had became the latest victim of Indian red tape. The real thing, the reports said, was locked up in a government godown, seized by customs officials because the ICC had forgotten to pencil the trophy in the list of items for customs duty exemption.
Later in the day, the ICC denied a replica had been given to Yuvraj and company, and the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) asserted it hadn’t run itself out.
Refuting “erroneous and mischievous media reports”, the ICC, in a press release, said the trophy seized by Mumbai customs was the “promotional, perpetual trophy”, whose permanent residence is the ICC headquarters in Dubai. It carries the generic ICC corporate logo rather than the logo for the 2011 event. It said the “original”, carrying the 2011 event logo, had been presented to the Indian team. However, it did not elaborate on why the promotional trophy was in India.
The CBEC, through a press release, did elaborate on how the promotional trophy ended with it. According to the CBEC, two ICC employees landed in Mumbai from Colombo on April 1, a day before the finals, with the ‘perpetual trophy’ in their personal baggage. Being a personal item, they were asked to pay customs duty – according to a customs official, of Rs 22 lakh.
When they said the trophy belonged to the ICC, the CBEC looked up the list of items given by the ICC Tournament Committee that were to be imported temporarily for the World Cup , for which the CBEC had given a duty waiver. The perpetual trophy was not on it.
The CBEC says it contacted ICC Tournament Director RS Shetty the same day. In a letter dated April 1, Shetty said the trophy wasn’t intended for use in India. In the letter, Shetty asked the CBEC to hold the trophy in its warehouse and that the two officials would collect it on their way back to Dubai.
The ICC Cricket World Cup trophy, created in 1999, is made from silver and gold. It features a golden globe, representing a cricket ball, held up by three silver columns, symbolising the stumps. It is 2 feet in height and weighs about 11 kg. The names of the previous winners are engraved on the base of the trophy, with space for a total of 20 inscriptions.
The ICC release says India has the right trophy. It added that its officials were going to reclaim the promotional trophy on Monday and take it to Dubai as intended. But as with the aborted toss in the finals, tongues will wag, at least for a while. Economic Times