What a ban could not achieve, benevolence will. Or, at least, that’s what the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) believes.
BCCI announced on Wednesday that those wishing to return to its fold could do so if they severed all ties with the banned Indian Cricket League (ICL). They can play domestic cricket from June 1, but won’t be eligible for national selection for a “cooling” period of one year.
With over 80 Indian players in the league, the board is banking on a mass exodus making it impossible for the ICL to conduct a tournament. The ICL, for now, claims that its October tournament will go on as scheduled.
“The BCCI was just waiting for the ICC to rule on the ICL. Once that came recently, it was a matter of time before the finishing blow came,” an insider revealed.
One of the most popular teams in the ICL was Lahore Badshahs. Once the political situation made it impossible for a Pakistan team to come here, it became unviable for ICL to conduct a tournament.
Without any on-field action since November last year, the players, who claim they have not been paid since December, have grown restless. “We’re not even getting paid now, so we can’t just sit at home twiddling our thumbs,” a former India international, who did not want to be named, told Hindustan Times.
"We've been given till May 31 to decide, but many of us have been waiting for an opportunity like this. I just have to talk to some of my (ICL) teammates and then we will approach the BCCI."
What remains unclear is whether the BCCI will restore the pension of former cricketers such as Kapil Dev, Kiran More and others associated with the league. For the moment, though, the BCCI wants to bring back as many
players as it can. By allowing players to compete in domestic cricket, the BCCI has dangled the IPL carrot. "We cannot pick players in the IPL. But if any franchise
wants to sign these players, they will be free to, once they leave the ICL," a top BCCI official said.