This, now, has all the makings of a mini-exodus. On Friday, three Uttar Pradesh Ranji players reportedly joined the Indian Cricket League. What should be worrying the BCCI now is, that unlike many of the names announced till now, none of the three is either near retirement nor has lost all hope of making it to the Indian team at some stage.
Former youth World Cupper and UP’s pace spearhead, left arm seamer Shalabh Srivastava is 25, all-rounder Ali Murtuza is 17 and left-arm spinner Avinash Yadav is 20 and, like some of the seven Hyderabadis who joined the ICL this week, they will all be part of the ICL's larger stated strategy — one to nurture a pool of "young, exciting talent".
Sources, confirming that the players had signed up on Friday, told the Hindustan Times that nothing would be officially announced ahead of a press conference next week in Mumbai. While this could not be confirmed, the press conference is likely to be on Monday and will be addressed by former selection committee chief and the ICL’s director of domestic recruitment, Kiran More and will unveil several of the ICL’s new recruits, both domestic and international.
“We have been asked to report in Mumbai ahead of the official announcement about our joining,” said one of the trio, adding, “Some more UP Ranji regulars are in the process of negotiations with the ICL.”
HT has been given to understand that the main reason behind the UP cricketers’ move to the ICL was their resentment of the BCCI and UP Cricket Association (UPCA) policies, including delay in payments of match fees and no financial support to injured cricketers.
What should worry the Board is the fact that these players, despite having age on their side and having performed well at different levels, are joining the ICL.
Meanwhile, UPCA director Jyoti Bajpai seemed unfazed about what should be a critical issue. “I have no such information (on the players’ joining),” he said, adding, “It’s a natural phenomenon and everybody is free to think about the betterment of his future.”
Kiran More, when contacted, said: “Very soon we would be announcing our teams for the league.”
Ashish Kaul, senior vice-president (corporate brand development), Essel Group, welcomed the move of the three UP cricketers. “It’s a good sign for the ICL and I am happy that cricketers are showing interest,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alfred Abbalam, the second highest wicket-taker for Hyderabad with 24 scalps last season, has joined the ICL.