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Time for IPL to bury the hatchet with ICL
by Suresh Menon
Jun 09, 2008
Time for IPL to bury the hatchet with ICL

By Suresh Menon

After Twenty20 and the IPL, the question being asked was 'where will this end?' Now, with the Champions League - with teams from India, England, Australia and South Africa playing for the five million dollar first prize - to follow later in the year, any guess is as good as any other. But the question 'where did it all begin?' has a specific answer even if the Board of Control for Cricket in India would like to pretend otherwise.

The first Twenty20 tournament in India with international stars, and with the stated aim of giving Indian youngsters exposure, allowing players to make money, discovering the stars of tomorrow, and more such tear-jerking ideals, was actually organized by the ICL, the Indian Cricket League. The BCCI then appropriated the idea (although it had been lying in its files for a while), blew more air into it, tutored the spin doctors in the same 'only winners, no losers' philosophy and we had the IPL. And then it did one other thing - it banned the ICL, and got the International Cricket Council to endorse this. Those connected with the ICL became pariahs.

I was skeptical of the ICL which struck me as an exercise involving a few people who would make a lot of money - all talk of discovering talent etc was merely investing it with a moral justification. In real terms, therefore, there is no difference between the IPL and the ICL except that the former was 'official', involved greater amounts of money and carried the media along with it.

But the Board insists on being vindictive. Where the Champions League is concerned, there are two rules regarding the players. One, that if a player happens to be in two teams (eg Michael Hussey, who is both with the Chennai Super Kings and with Western Australia, both teams qualified to play), then the IPL franchisee has the choice of either retaining him or relieving him at a fee to his original team.

The second rule is unnecessarily spiteful. It says simply that any team which fields a player from the ICL will be automatically disqualified.

It is time the Board buried the hatchet. It can afford to be magnanimous after making a small fortune on the IPL. If the ban is lifted, teams can throw the net wider in the coming seasons, and by the standard argument, attract more youngsters.

The Champions League comprises the finalists in the domestic Twenty20 tournaments of the four countries (why is there no Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka or New Zealand involved?). It is unlikely that Australia, with an important tour to India to follow will release their players for the September-October tournament.

The five million dollars is a great solvent - most problems regarding players, venues, formats, time of year are bound to dissolve in the magic of that figure. There are international players, notably from England, who missed out on the IPL and they are not likely to argue about the niceties just so long as they are given a chance to win the five million. If the England Cricket Board has told the BCCI where it can stick its anti-ICL ruling, there has been no evidence of it so far. Teams making it to the final of their domestic tournament commencing this week are likely to have some ICL players. But England don't have the power to put pressure on the Indian Board. Neither do any of the others.

But the time has come for the BCCI to lift the ban of its own accord.

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