ICL - What's all the fuss about?

The BCCI and the rival Indian Cricket League are taking big back lifts of their bat in an attempt to hit each other out of the ground.

updated: August 15, 2007 10:15 IST
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New Delhi:

The BCCI and the rival Indian Cricket League are taking big back lifts of their bat in an attempt to hit each other out of the ground.

The ICL has got some unexpected support and is stirring up curiosity about some big shots, they say will announce joining them on Independence Day.

The Kerry Packer of Indian cricket is what Subhash Chandra came to be known as after launching the Indian Cricket League in April earlier this year.

Many thought the breakaway league would feature only Ranji players and India discards, but the organisers pulled off a coup by roping in West Indian legend Brian Lara.

BCCI bosses did not perhaps mind that. The real conflict started with former Indian skipper Kapil Dev jumping on to the ICL bandwagon despite being the current chairman of the National Cricket Academy.

"In fact he is the Chairman, the entire job has been given to him but unfortunately it looks like that he is extremely busy with some other activity," said Sharad Pawar, BCCI chief.

The message from the Indian cricket board to former and current players was loud and clear - bat for the board.

Kapil's fate will be decided on August 21. The Haryana Hurricane could lose his job with the BCCI and probably even his pension for joining the breakaway league. Undeterred, he's going full steam ahead with the new venture.

"Nothing, I can't do anything. That is their (BCCI) choice. Right now I should not say anything because I am still the Chairman," said Kapil Dev.

"Wait for August 15th and then we will give you more names and more details," he added.

Motivated by profit

The BCCI has, however, made it clear it cannot approve of a breakway league like the ICL because it's purely for profit.

But the biggest surprise froma a monopoly like the Board was the accusation that the ICL does not have a democratic structure.

The board claims that Kapil Dev can contribute perfectly well to cricket by being with the NCA. Lastly, the BCCI says the ICL matches cannot be shown on any other channel because its backed by Zee.

The BCCI's fight to preserve its monoploy over cricket in India is, however, now taking a serious political turn.

Batting for ICL are leaders of the BJP and even Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav who has offered five stadiums under the Railways to ICL. That's a huge six for the ICL considering the problems it was facing getting facilities.

The same rpoblems Kerry Packer faced. He finally converted parks and football fields to cricket grounds.

"It is a good initiative. It will give rise to competition and good players will be encouraged. The parallel league is a good thing for those who complain that they were not selected or were ignored. This competition will be good for spotting good players," said Lalu Prasad Yadav, President, Bihar Cricket Association.

But, the BCCI is protecting its turf against all intruders.

The issue clearly is no longer just about the ICL or Kapil Dev but that the Board will go to any extent to protect its monopoly. And they don't really care if they have to sacrifice the interests of the players or the game to prove who's the boss.