Even while everyone is talking about the ICL’s international and domestic stars and who would comprise its six mainline teams, no one’s really talking about what the League plans to do about its professed plans for the development of cricket.
The reason? There’s probably some confusion on that front. On one hand, while ICL officials are saying they will come to developmental projects once they have their main signings and system in place (and this includes finalising grounds ahead of the inaugural event this October-November), sources say that they have reached an informal tie-up with the Indian Twenty20 Cricket Federation (ITCF), to scout for talent and handle the domestic end of things.
The ITCF, set up in 2004 to promote T20 cricket at a time when there was no top-level interest in it, and any talk of BCCI and rebel leagues was hypothetical, reportedly has 500 sub-units (affiliated to its 58 main units) in place already, at district, state and zonal levels.
According to sources, the ICL will conduct tournaments at the under-16, under-20 and under-25 levels at the districts, in addition to regular events. This some say, will be conducted via the ITCF, which has these events in place. The u-16 tournament has been named the Subash Chandra Bose Trophy, the u-20 and u-25 tournaments will be the Lal Bahadur Shastri Trophy and Bal Gangadhar Tilak Trophy, respectively. The senior’s trophy will reportedly be in the name of Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Top ICL sources confirmed to HT that an unofficial agreement was on the cards but nothing was certain yet. “We will unveil our strategy in a while,” said an official.
Even more intriguingly, ITCF general secretary Piyush Rana told HT that there had been no official merger between the ITCF and the ICL, and added that his “options were open”.
“I would love to join any organisation that has enough financial backing to promote this shortest version of the game,” he said. “Cricket in India is a goose that lays the golden egg, and it’s the time to cash in on your hard work,” a candid Rana said from Patiala. “Even after an agreement between the two bodies, I would not prefer to lose the identity of ITCF, India.”
But that might just be talk. Rana is an employee of Zee Sports, which is also owned by the Essel Group, which owns the ICL.