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Walls closing in on concerned ICL

To stick your neck out and defy the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not easy.

The Indian Cricket League (ICL) was branded a rebel right from the start and with the season’s second Twenty20 tournament about to begin, things haven’t gotten any easier.

When they launched last year, the ICL was looking to ride on the board’s low credibility after Team India’s ouster from the 2007 World Cup. What followed though was India’s T20 world championship victory in South Africa that took the wind out of the ICL sails. This time again, when they are looking to launch the next big T20 tournament, the BCCI is on a high.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction has been a grand success and to top everything has been twin-victories in Kuala Lumpur and Australia. Call it bad timing or bad luck, the ICL is worried.

“We are looking to do whatever we can to make the game better in the country,” Kapil Dev argues, the way he’s done since he was first appointed on the ICL board. “If the Indian team is doing well, we are all happy.”

But he has to accept that ICL is in a position where it is forced to blow its own trumpet. There’s not much they can gain at the moment from trying to show the BCCI in poor light. In fact, Kapil himself chooses to backtrack from what he had said last year, when he termed the T20 players members of the BCCI team and not the Indian team. “Of course it is the Indian team. When I won the World Cup, it was for India,” he says.

What hurts the ICL players the most is that they won’t get an opportunity to represent the country. More than a few have told The Indian Express how not being in contention is depressing. One player said, “After a period of time, money becomes redundant. It seems as if that one big dream you always saw is suddenly dead.”

Kapil and others on the ICL board accept this. The former all-rounder concedes that it was the “dream of playing for India” that had fueled his own expectations years ago. In the fight between the BCCI and the ICL, it is the players who’re seeing the death of a dream.

On Wednesday, ICL got a title sponsor for the T20 tournament, reportedly at US$5m. But it won’t change the bigger picture, at least for now.

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