It’s cricket alright
Even the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will grudgingly agree that the first list of players who have signed up to three-year contracts with the Indian Cricket League (ICL) is impressive.india Updated: Aug 21, 2007 23:30 IST
Even the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will grudgingly agree that the first list of players who have signed up to three-year contracts with the Indian Cricket League (ICL) is impressive. The list announced by the ICL on Monday apparently includes some prominent Indian names alongside those of former West Indian skipper Brian Lara, South African all-rounders Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje, and Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Imran Farhat and Abdur Razzaq. This perhaps augurs well for a smooth launch of the League’s Twenty-20 series scheduled to begin in October. Observers have rightly compared ICL’s series of Twenty-20, 50-overs and three-day tournaments, involving a mix of domestic and foreign players, with Kerry Packer’s hugely successful World Series Championships of the 1970s.
So what if the ICL finds itself in a confrontation with the BCCI, which refuses to recognise it and threatens to debar cricketers who play for it? It is, of course, the BCCI’s prerogative to deal with players who take part in “unapproved tournaments” in any manner it deems fit. But then it is important for the Board — which, incidentally, was the first to introduce Twenty-20 in the country — to acknowledge that ventures like the ICL can only add to the quality of the game in the subcontinent. In any case, the score of players bound by BCCI contracts hardly represent the hundreds of thousands of players out there who are not under any contract — an enormous talent pool that will obviously benefit from the ICL. It is inarguable that a professional league will give India’s domestic circuit a much-needed shot in the arm. The ICL could even succeed where the BCCI failed: encouraging state associations, which usually miss out on international games for long periods, to stage tourneys in the abridged and more exciting version of cricket so that the money they collect could be used to develop the game.
As the Twenty-20 World Cup in South Africa later this year will likely prove, selling production and broadcast rights for such championships could bring in huge revenues. And as league matches maximise revenues and generate public interest in the domestic circuit, promising players will get the chance that they would otherwise miss to be picked for the national side.