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Monday, August 20, 2007

Yes, Yes, Yes to Indian Cricket League

Lara had said YES a while back, now Dinesh Mongia and Inzamam-ul-Haq have amongst many other currently active cricketers, LG & Videocon have expressed interest, Railway Minister Laloo Yadav has pledged support, and the NewZealand Cricket Players' Association have requested ICC to recognise ICL. The Indian Cricket League has well and truly taken off, and with the announcements by the Chairman of the ICL Executive Board, Kapil Dev in a press conference today, the world of cricket seems to be headed for a controversial yet exciting phase in the near future. Hopefully it should be good for cricket and cricketers - for now I am just happy to see the BCCI in some pain!
Let's look at the ICL's kitty till date:
Overseas Cricketers signed up by ICL:
Brian Lara, Lance Klusener, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Abdur Razzaq, Mohammad Yousuf, Nicky Boje
Indian Cricketers who have signed up for the League:
Deep Dasgupta, Dinesh Mongia, JP Yadav, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Ambati Rayudu, Avishek Jhuhjhunwala, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, T Kumaran, S. ShriRam, Dheeraj Yadav, Shalabh Srivastav, Shreyas Khanolkar, Abbas Ali, Hemanth Kumar, Avinash Yadav, Inder Shekar Reddy, Ishan Malhotra, Kaushik Reddy, Manish Sharma, Ibrahim Khaleel, Monish Mishra, Robin Morris, Alfred Absolem, Ali Murtaza, Shashank Nag, Shibsagar Singh, Abhijit Shetye, Devendran, Sumit Kalia, Dakshinamoorthy Kumaran, Taduri Prakash Sudhindra, Sarabjit Singh, Ganapathi Vignesh, Devishetty Vinay Kumar, Yashpal Singh, J Hariesh, R Satish, Rajesh Sharma, Ranjit Khirid, Sachin Dholpure, Subhojit Paul, Sumit Kalia, Subhomoy Das, Raviraj Patil
While the overseas player like Inzamam don't face an immediate threat from their boards, BCCI has made it clear that players who join the Indian Cricket League risk being banned by the Indian Board and in that light, the decision of someone like Dinesh Mongia, who was in the India Team this May is pretty surprising and would be a big jolt for the BCCI. There are quite a few other cricketers amongs the signatories to the ICL, who still had a chance of making it to the India XI. The ICL plans to have six teams of atleast 12 players for its inaugural Twenty20 tournament, and of its requirement of 72 cricketers, the ICL now has over 50 already.
Big advertisers on cricket like electronic majors Videocon and LG have a shrewd commercial reason to back ICL. While a 10-second commercial during a cricket match involving India would have cost upwards of Rs.1 lakh, they have every reason to believe that media planners will now be able to reach out to the cricket audience for half that cost. Every penny that comes to the Zee-Sports ICL ad kitty is more than a penny lost for the BCCI. (explained: If Star Cricket pays BCCI Rs.100 for TV rights, it would expect to at least make a little more than Rs.100 from the ads)
What will ultimately hurt BCCI is when the ICL starts luring away budding cricketers early - if that begins to happen on a larger scale, and there is every indication it will, the BCCI may be in trouble in as soon as 4 to 5 years from now. Even without the ICL in picture, chief selector Dileep Vengsarkar bemoaned the lack of talent in the country - what now, with whatever there is, being shared.
If you have been following cricket in England, you would have noticed that the English cricket fan who were never the biggest supporters of the One-Day format took to the domestic Twenty20 tournaments, filling up the county stadiums. In the Caribbean, Texan Millionaire Allen Stanford's Twenty20 tournament was a huge success, in spite of being a localized affair. India, home to more cricket fan than the rest of the world put together, would therefore be a very attractive proposition for Subhash Chandra and Zee, and if the England and the West Indies experiments are anything to go by, the Indian Cricket League promises to be a huge success - and to my great satisfaction, a huge pain-in-the-you know where for the BCCI. Kudos Zee!

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