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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Co-existence of ICL and BCCI in India

The Indian Cricket League, headed by Zee TV Chairman, has been making waves recently. They unveiled a set of players and coaches, who would be part of the League in the coming season. Some names like that of Ambati Rayadu, have been surprising - since they had a chance to play for India if they had continued their good work. Probably, their character is to take risks - as the step they have taken is loaded with the possibility of being banned from their state side. That is exactly what the BCCI did, when they got the clue that there was going to be a mass exodus. Why would anyone choose to go over to the ICL ranks? Money is definitely the first factor that all these players would have considered.

The gulf between International and national cricket, in terms of earnings on (and off) the field is usually large. Unless the state players graduated to the international ranks, they would have to end their career with earnings that would not be great to speak of. The proof could be seen when BCCI immediately upped the salaries of domestic cricketers - did it require another league for the BCCI to open its eyes? This factor was definitely the one that attracted the overseas players to join the league.

The second factor that might have lured the players would have been the presence of the foreign players - a chance to share the dressing room with the likes of Brian Lara, Shane Warne, Glenn Mcgrath, Inzy, Razzaq and other greats like Kapil Dev, Sandeep Patil, Prasanna, etc. Again, this option would give them a chance to pit their skills with/against the greats, which may not look possible in the near future.

The senior players like Sandeep Patil, Sandhu and others have joined the ICL as their expertise was not used properly by the BCCI. In some cases, they were given positions within the Board but no absolute powers to execute anything substantial. The money, as well, would be definitely on the higher side for them as well. One weakness that can be seen in the League is that none of the senior Indian players nor the India A players have joined the league.

The day someone like Dhoni or Sehwag joins the league, is when BCCI will wake up and join hands with the ICL. This is a day that will happen soon, though the BCCI has been mentioning their own plans of Twenty-20. The only ones who seemed to be on the radar were the likes of Dinesh Mongia, Sriram. ICL will have to display a great show in the first year so that they can recover their initial investments in the tournament - the interest levels would have to be retained so that the audience returned the subsequent years.

The concept is good since that will give the youngsters playing the league a chance to hone their skills against the best and improve theirs automatically. The fielding, catching, running between the wickets - characteristics that are showing up as very poor in the current squad - will have to improve if they have to survive. Obviously, the amount spent by the League on the players mean that the expectations on the players would be very high - this can mean good for the players themselves. Obviously, both the BCCI and ICL are not running charities, their secondary wish (the primary one is to "run cricket in India") is to make money by their various tournaments - the BCCI must be kicking themselves why they didnt think of a tournament on these lines.

The way everyone wins will be - the BCCI runs their tournaments in the longer and one-day versions, ICL takes care of the Twenty20 scene. There will not be any overlap between the two bodies, no conflicts of schedules, no isolation of players. The Indian cricket gets to gain as a result and the team will have a funnel of players to replace the likes of Sachin, Sourav, Rahul, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble.

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