Successful show proves ICL's existence

The inaugural edition of the Indian Cricket League is over. But away from the hype and hoopla, how much of a success was it as a cricket tournament?

updated: December 19, 2007 10:23 IST
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The inaugural edition of the Indian Cricket League is over, most of the international players have gone home and the crowds seem to have got their money's worth.

But away from the hype and hoopla, how much of a success was it as a cricket tournament?

The organisers of the ICL had promised fire-works when the concept of the rebel league was initially made public. Indeed, there were fireworks on Sunday with the end of the 17 day inaugral Twenty20 tournament.

The victorious Chennai Superstars were richer by 3.9 crore rupees, that's close to a million dollars, the biggest booty up for grabs ever in a cricket tournament and that's probably why there are reports that the League has overshot its initial budget of Rs 100 Crore.

Though Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra says the money on offer next year might go up if the sponsors oblige.

"The last team is getting 85 lakh rupees, I mean who's seen that kind of money? If the sponsors respond well the money should definitely go to the players who made it big," said Kapil Dev, Executive Board Chairman, ICL.

But amidst the mammoth prize-money and the glamour on offer, how successful has the ICL been as a cricket tournament and can it sustain long-term viewership, especially with the more high profile Indian Premier League coming up.

They certainly think they can which is why they have a pretty crammed calendar for the next season.
That includes five tournaments across different venues and also an invitation cup with an international XI in attendance. But the ICL's ultimate aim still seems a dream.

"I know in some time these boys will represent the country. This is the best talent in the country and if they are not given a choice, I will be very disappointed," Kapil Dev said.

A reconciliation is something that the Board might not be very keen on, but it is not just Kapil Dev who shares that dream

"Everyone in Pakistan is watching the tournament, I'm happy with my performance, if the selectors are watching me, then I would like to play for Pakistan again," said Shabbir Ahmed of Chennai Superstars.

Whether his hat-trick in the final earns Shabbir Ahmed a callback in the Pakistan squad or not, is still unknown.

But one thing is for sure, this is a wake up call of sorts for the BCCI.

Specially if they want to prevent more youngsters with potential from choosing cash over country.

You might not call the inaugural tournament of the Indian Cricket League a financial success. But it is been a success story otherwise.

It has given many domestic players an opportunity to rub shoulders with international talent.

But more than anything else, it has given them a huge financial security.