The temptation to join the Indian Cricket League (ICL) is seemingly becoming irresistible. Close on the heels of seven Punjab players jumping on to the ICL bandwagon, four more followed suit on Thursday. The latest to shift their allegiance are all-rounder Amit Uniyal, medium-pacer Luv Ablish, left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma and leg-spinner Karanveer.
While the first three are part of the state’s Ranji squad, Karanveer toured with India u-19 last year.
Interestingly, all of them are far from nearing the end of their careers. Uniyal has been a Punjab regular for seven years and, except for an average outing last year, has done well overall. Ablish was the highest wicket-taker for Punjab last season. Bipul Sharma was the pick of the Punjab bowlers in the North Zone one-day tournament and Karanveer is looked at as a great prospect.
The move, coming soon after the BCCI announced a major hike in match fees for domestic cricketers, is causing surprise and concern --- especially as Punjab had announced retainers for their players.
Clearly, it hasn’t discouraged the ICL aspirants.
“The BCCI’s pay package is up, but those who get to play two-three matches wouldn’t gain much,” said Uniyal.
All four, however, expressed their gratitude to the PCA. “We are walking away just because it seems more practical to us. But we are grateful to the PCA for providing us with all the opportunities,” said Ablish.