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Season of change and growing pains up ahead

It was a day of drama, largely expected, yet, at the end of it, you still had to be left feeling somewhat sad and stunned by all that has taken place and the frenetic pace of it, writes Kadambari Murali.

cricket Updated: Aug 22, 2007 00:41 IST
Kadambari Murali

It was a day of drama, largely expected, yet, at the end of it, you still had to be left feeling somewhat sad and stunned by all that has taken place and the frenetic pace of it.

The BCCI AGM declaring a blanket ban on anyone associated with unauthorised tournaments, or the ICL for all practical purposes as of now, a new era in Indian cricket has begun. Or perhaps it began yesterday, when Subhash Chandra's band of marketing wizkids announced their signings.

Or perhaps it was long before that, when Chandra's Zee group did not win the TV rights for Indian cricket and a la Packer, decided to have their own mega-show instead. They were obviously helped infinitely by the rifts within Indian cricket and a loss of faith in the system in many sections of this dog-eat-dog world.

Anyway, that ban on 50-odd domestic cricketers as of now, definitely the single largest exodus from Indian cricket at any time, means domestic cricket this year will see changes galore. Many teams will be emptied, which means that big (money and name-wise) transfers will likely happen and many youngsters will probably have a baptism by fire. This could well be an opportunity for the BCCI to look at keeping its flock together by implementing state-level retainerships like in other countries.

And if the Board wants to take a shot at stealing the ICL's thunder, it could well go through with what the grapevine says is being planned - an annual "domestic" Twenty20 event that will see international teams (perhaps the winners of T20 competitions in other countries) participate too.

The ICC rules mean that no country can play more than three T20 games in a year outside of ICC events but there is no bar on domestic events or games. All this of course, if a gap in the schedule is found.

While BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi told HT this was not happening as of now, the rumours refuse to die down. So we'll watch this space.

As for the players who have left the BCCI fold, some disenchanted by the lack of opportunities in the system, some aware that they lacked what it took to succeed and all probably lured by the lucre, one can only hope that they have not taken a decision in haste only to repent at leisure.

Perhaps the ICL, if it is as glammed up as T20 cricket generally is, with the dancing girls and music and general tamasha, will work for television and the sponsors (they are in talks with all the usual BCCI sponsors). In which case, the players will get their money.

But if it doesn't take off, that's a big worry, as it could then boomerang on the huge money they expect to make. After all, they have just been given 25 per cent of the first year's amount up-front.