One of the interesting things about the Indian Cricket League (ICL) is the number and profile of players it has managed to pull. Not just has-beens but even young players with the potential to play for India have signed on.
Ambati Rayudu (Hyderabad, 22) and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (Bengal, 25) are two such cases. On Monday, Jhunjhunwala explained the rationale behind his decision. “I will get a chance to play with some of the legends of the game,” the batsman said. “If I do well I might get a chance to play for the country. It gives me security as well.”
It is not going to be easy, though, for the rebels to get an India cap. The ICL may not prohibit its players from doing India duty. But the BCCI, at this point at least, is clear that it won’t entertain ICL cricketers. BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi said here on Monday, “Any player is free to join a team of his choice. But the BCCl remains firm on its earlier stand of not taking back players joining ICL.”
If that makes players feel anxious, Kapil Dev has reassuring words for them. “As long as they are in form,” the chairman of ICL’s Executive Board said, “I will back till the last day I live.”
Asked about what the fan should watch, Sachin Tendulkar playing for India or Dinesh Mongia swinging away for the ICL, Kapil said, “India mein hazaaron picturein banti hain. Kisiko Amitabh ki picture dekhni hai kisiko Shah Rukh Khan ki (thousands of films are made in India. Someone likes to watch Amitabh movies, others Shah Rukh Khan). Same logic applies here.”
People can choose between Tendulkar and Mongia or SRK and Bachchan. Or they can have the best of both worlds. Kapil can’t. As of Monday he holds posts in both organisations (he is also chairman of the National Cricket Academy). On Tuesday, however, when the BCCI conducts its special general meeting in Mumbai, he is likely to be shunted off the NCA.
Back at the ICL launch, Himanshu Mody, the project head, said he was certain the six-team league with a million dollar winner’s cheque would fulfill sponsors’ commitments. “The sponsors needed a product that would deliver,” he said. “We are confident about our product.”
The ICL would require its teams to compete in tournaments for three or four months a year. They will spend the rest of the time training or playing for other teams. Mongia, for example, said he intended to keep playing in England. Kapil said he admired the courage of players for deciding to shift. “I did not have the same courage when I was young. They have shown they will decide what to do with their lives and not be pushed or threatened by someone else.”
Huge offers for Pak players?
Karachi: Pakistani players are quoting astronomical sums being offered to them by the organisers of the ICL.
A copy of the contract offered to the players shows that players stand to make $195,000 besides performance incentives for not more than 45 days of cricket per year, with payments to be made in three instalments.