The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may not like it, but a player to have participated in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) is in contention for the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual awards.
Ireland’s Niall O’Brien is among the four shortlisted for the Associate Player of the Year award, one for players only from the associate member countries of the ICC. The wicketkeeper batsman played for Delhi Giants in the ICL 20-20 in December last year. He was also Man of the Match in Ireland’s stunning win over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup.
Considering the BCCI’s stand against the ICL that everyone related to the ‘rebel league’ must be banned, O’Brien is a striking name in reckoning for an award given by ICC, which usually doesn’t antagonise the BCCI. Contacted by HT, ICC spokesman James Fitzgerald said O’Brien was chosen because he didn’t continue his association with the ICL. “It was understood that he wouldn’t renew his ICL contract after that particular tournament. Had he still been with them, it might have been a different matter.
“At the time of signing the contract, he didn’t know that he ran the risk of not being picked by Ireland. He didn’t play in the ICL afterwards.”
Speaking from the ICC headquarters in Dubai, Fitzgerald added that as a result, there was no problem in O’ Brien bagging a contract with English county Northamptonshire.
There are at least 15 more players from countries like Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia who have contracts with several English counties despite playing in the ICL because according to rules of that country, they can’t be stopped from signing them. The difference between them and O’Brien is while a Shane Bond or Justin Kemp can’t turn up for their national teams, the Irishman can.
The BCCI banned all the players who joined ICL after it was launched and stopped the pension of many former players including Kapil Dev. It has also held back the money due to the players who took part in Ranji Trophy and other BCCI-run tournaments just before signing up with ICL.
After being informed about O’Brien’s nomination for the award, ICL business head Himanshu Mody said it was pleasant knowing that “one of our players is being recognised by the ICC”.