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'Rival league not in conflict with Board'

The ‘Indian Cricket League’ series is purported to run parallel to international cricket and the domestic tournaments organised by the BCCI, reports Abhishek Hore.

cricket Updated: Apr 04, 2007 00:43 IST

Declaring that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has not done enough to create a strong pool of reserve players, Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Zee Group, on Tuesday launched a rival cricket series called ‘Indian Cricket League’ (ICL). The series, in partnership with Infrastructure Leasing & Finance Services Limited, is purported to run parallel to international cricket and the domestic tournaments organised by the BCCI.

The league will start with the Twenty20 format keeping in mind the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa later this year. Kerry Packer revisited? No, says Chandra. "Kerry Packer took all the Australian players under him and then put pressure on the Australian Cricket Board,” he said. “The ICL is not in conflict with the BCCI… Rather, I would call it complementary to the present body.

“The idea behind this is to create a large talent pool of players with a killer instinct. The players will be available for the BCCI too.” Is it feasible to host a parallel series without the BCCI’s co-operation? On issues like using the BCCI-affiliated grounds for hosting matches and signing up international players, the group would require the approval of the premier cricket body.

Chandra said, “We’ve written to them, forwarding our proposals. But we are yet to receive any feedback.”

It seems unlikely that the BCCI would accept the proposal and join forces with the ICL. Chandra, though, sounded optimistic. “I don’t see any reason why the BCCI would reject the proposal. At this point, I don’t want to even assume that they will reject our proposal. After all, we are doing this for the good of the game.”

Chandra also rued the fact that despite the passion the game generates, its soaring popularity and the huge commercial activity it encourages, India has only six men good enough to make the BCCI’s A-list of contracted players.

“The population of our country is more than one billion… This includes millions of diehard cricket fans. So, having just six A-grade players is really sad,” he said.

“Instead of sitting helplessly, we should act in a unified manner to achieve our objectives,” Chandra added.

To start with, the league will have six teams, each with two India internationals and eight budding young players from the country, apart from four overseas players.

Chandra said that some of the country’s top cricketers have showed keen interest in the venture and have even signed up, though he declined to disclose any names.

Chandra also plans to set up cricket academies across the country and aims to equip them with all modern facilities. One major difference between Chandra’s brainchild and the BCCI’s methods of running the game will be the fact that the ICL officials and selectors will be paid employees and, thus, accountable for their actions. In an obvious dig at the BCCI, Chandra declared that there would be no honorary posts.