By Syed Khalid Mahmood
In the boom that followed the triumph of Team India in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup Cricket Tournament in South Africa last year, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) was launched to further promote the newest and the fastest version of the sport.
The ICL did not have the blessings of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and hence it was condemned as a ‘rebel’ affair. The International Cricket Council (ICC) took the word of the BCCI and the ICL was denied the official recognition. The other cricket boards were not in a position to annoy the BCCI either and the players participating in the ICL had to compromise on their international careers.
Only a few months later the BCCI came out with their own Twenty20 tournament by the name of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on the similar lines as the ICL.
If the ICL had proved a big success story despite the lack of support of the BCCI, the official IPL turned out to be a blockbuster.
What a season it had turned out for the Indian cricketers and their supporters. It was the perfect tonic to revitalize the game after the World Cup disaster in the Caribbean in early 2007.
The monumental success of both the ICL as well as the IPL from the outset made it clear that both these events were there to stay. The innovative idea of having Twenty20 leagues caught the imagination of the cricket-crazy India and their future looked secured.
It was being anticipated that the movers and shakers of the ICL and the IPL will settle their differences in the larger interest of the game in their own country but the same has not happened yet despite the mediation by the ICC.
The promoters of the ICL have been trying to convince the ICC to recognize their tournament but the governing body of the body has found itself in a very awkward situation.
The ICC, passing the impression of being an impartial supreme body, passed on the matter to the BCCI who were advised to get in touch with the ICL. From whatever little that has appeared in the media, the officials of the BCCI and the ICL remained deadlocked over the issue.
The cricketers contracted by the ICL are obviously concerned with the bans that have been imposed by their respective countries. These players can only be reconsidered for selection in their state or national outfits if the tournament is recognized by the ICC.
The BCCI, the IPL and the ICL have been doing a fantastic job for the promotion of the game. Their efforts have revived the game in India and the standard of cricket is improving every passing day.
It will be in their own interest to resolve the issue and let anyone promoting the game be encouraged not discouraged. The ICL is not organizing any baseball or rugby event. It’s cricket after all that’s benefiting. The lovers of the game are passionate about the Twenty20 League. Does it matter if it’s the IPL or the ICL.
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