On October 14 when the International Cricket Council (ICC) board met in Dubai, the Board of Control for Cricket in India offered to meet with representatives of the Indian Cricket League. There was surprise at this apparent volte face on the part of BCCI till it was revealed that they had agreed to meet the ICL, and submit a report to the ICC, at the behest of the ICC's lawyers.
That the meeting was organised in utmost haste raised eyebrows further. Shashank Manohar, president of the BCCI, gave ICL officials a 10-minute hearing at a Delhi hotel and reportedly demanded that the parallel league disband before talking to the board.
While ICL officials felt slighted, the BCCI merely said: "…The talks failed and there are no plans for any further meeting," in a release.
However, HT has learned that there was a subsequent meeting, on November 1 in Mumbai, but only high-ranking officials were involved. A top BCCI functionary refused to confirm or deny the meeting while ICL officials claimed ignorance. Even a spokesperson of the ICC said he was unaware, but did confirm that the BCCI had submitted a detailed report on the ICL to ICC chief Haroon Lorgat.
The BCCI has steadfastly maintained that the ICL had organised its Twenty20 tournament without seeking permission from the board. It also said that it was the apex governing body for the sport in India and as per clause 28 of the Memorandum and Rules and Regulations of the Board, anyone seeking to organise matches involving foreign players or teams must first get permission from the board. Furthermore, the board has asserted that private organizations shall not be allowed to stage any international matches or matches involving international players.
Apart from the matches between city teams, the ICL has also started matches between international teams like an Indian XI and the Pakistan XI, which the BCCI points out, could be a threat to the ICC. The BCCI added that the ICL proposed a match between its champions and a BCCI team, in order to cast a doubt over who represents India.
The BCCI has said that it runs tournaments for various age groups in a pyramidal structure that act as feeder to higher levels. If the ICL picks players from this system, BCCI's investment would go in vain. After their second meeting with ICL representatives, the BCCI has written to the ICC once again underscoring these concerns. "The report has reached the ICC, but no action will be taken on it at the moment. It will be discussed in the next board meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Australia on January 31 and February 1," a source revealed.
What's more, a person close to the talks in this case revealed that the case for cricketers in the ICL "might have brightened and that the BCCI assured the ICC that the process of settlement was already under way."
Is it just a coincidence that the ICL representatives these days have also conspicuously cut down on the anti-BCCI rhetoric? While it is impossible to guess what plans BCCI have for ICL, it does seem like the wheels are turning at the moment.