It was glitzy, quite glamorous actually by the usual standards of the BCCI, whose press conferences generally resemble a freewheeling bar-house brawl, with pushy cameras, pushier officials wanting their TV moment and swearwords being bandied about by frustrated hacks wanting to get a question in.
But Thursday, a “historic occasion” in the words of the BCCI brass, was none of that really. It was organised beautifully for the most, barring some fascinating verbal faux pas and if the intention was to take the wind out of the Indian Cricket League’s sails, well, it may have worked.
The Indian Premier League was unveiled along with its international edition, the Champions Twenty20 league here with lots of fanfare and some A-class “products” on offer.
It may be recalled that the details of this initiative, which will see players, international and domestic, Indian and foreign, “bought/ sold/ swapped” by individuals/corporates that buy a team franchise from the BCCI, were first reported by HT last month.
Also, as reported in these pages, the Champions league will see the top two domestic teams from the four “founder” members of this concept — the BCCI, Cricket Australia, Cricket South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board, take on each other in the inaugural edition, scheduled for October 2008.
Indian cricket’s Big 4, Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Kumble were all there, while McGrath — who wryly remarked that if at the time of the World Cup, anyone had told him he would sign up with the BCCI in a few months, he would have laughed it off — and Fleming had flown in too.
Just by sheer logic, if you have to pay to watch players from the ICL or the IPL, well, then the potential players on display at the IPL would win hands down, Brian Laras excluded. So Round 2 to the BCCI really, after the gala launch of the ICL.
The only thing is, if there’s room and appetite to watch so much T20 cricket, then, as the events are separated by six months, people could turn up for both. The ICL should take place early this winter, while the inaugural, 59-match, 44-day IPL, will be played in April-May 2008.
One thing is worrying — this will further cramp already overburdened schedules. But if the players are okay with that, then, well, what’s left to say?