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ICL eager to sign up English team

Cricket legend Kapil Dev says he wants to add a London or Birmingham team to the rebel Indian Cricket League.

Dev heads the ICL, the breakaway rival of the Indian Premier League.

"I would love to have a London team playing in the ICL or Birmingham or another city team," Dev, India's World Cup-winning captain, told BBC Sport.

"If I get a chance, if I have the money, I will definitely make one team from London or Birmingham. Give me the money and sponsor and I will do it."

He added: "I would also love to see a team from South Africa, West Indies and Australia."

Dev went on to reiterate his desire to sign England paceman Steve Harmison to the ICL.

The Durham bowler was dropped by England during the recent series against New Zealand and might not get a central contract when they are handed out by the England and Wales Cricket Board in September.

"Definitely, he would be most welcome," said Dev.

The ICL is in its second season after being set up by Indian broadcaster ZeeTV in 2007.

It is not recognised by the International Cricket Council, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or any of the other Test-playing nations.

The BCCI has set up its own Twenty20 league, the Indian Premier League, which kicks off in Bangalore on Friday.

Dev, who was named India's cricketer of the century by Wisden in 2002, said he could not understand the hostility to the ICL.

The ECB had originally announced it would ban from county cricket for a season any players who competed in the ICL but has since abandoned such a decision.

Dev stated: "We always say anybody picked for ICL must first represent their country and come to play for us when they are free.

"We don't want to spoil any country's cricket. The aim of ICL is to give exposure to the young boys and people who have played enough cricket, like Brian Lara or Inzamam-ul-Haq.

"If they share their time with the young upcoming guys, they can teach these young cricketers.

"That's what our aim is and if we give the spectators thrilling cricket, everyone benefits from that."

Dev says the aims of the ICL are analogous to those of county benefit matches.

"In England, you have benefit matches," stated India's 1984 World Cup-winning captain.

"We are saying that cricketers who have served their countries for 10 or 15 years can have a couple more years to benefit.

"The senior boys will pass on to the young cricketers what they have learned. Then we will see better cricket.

"I just want to ask the ECB one simple thing - am I doing something wrong by trying to promote cricket around the world?

"The ECB should send us a letter saying thank you. Let's not be hypocritical."

Dev said he would also encourage English players to join the rival IPL. They are the only international cricketers who have not been able to play in the competition this season.

"If they are free, they should go and play in the IPL," added Dev.

"I would say 'Please come and play and work out a better life. You must come and play in our country'.

"People from all around the world are coming to play in England, is that wrong? When we say we are coming and play in England, you people are happy.

"Nobody stops us, no board comes forward to say no. When cricket is being played in India, that's also good."

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