BCCI and ICL! This is turning out as a long-drawn soap opera. The underlying factor here is that every party involved is taking oneself and the other way too seriously. What is funny is the fact that the BCCI and ICL are trying to tell the world that each is doing things for the betterment of the game. Even Kapil Dev is trying to deceive the world at large by saying that nobody can stop him from doing a great service to the game. This statement is far from the truth.
It is extremely clear that Kapil Dev has joined ICL to make money. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Almost all of us are looking at making money and we move on to more lucrative and better prospects. Kapil Dev has every right to do so. I couldn’t fathom why he was talking rubbish earlier by saying that he had joined ICL for the betterment of the game, create a pool of players to represent India, so on and so forth. He has now come out and said that he has a right to look at greener pastures. That is the very fact. Most of the ex-cricketers look at commentary and at being experts in the TV studios, not to give back to the game what they got from it (and that is the usual self-righteous drivel they dish out), but to make money. Why would they want to feel shy admitting to that fact? Some would also love to be cricket coach of India, but would not coach state teams.
Coming back to ICL, I fail to see how and why BCCI should feel threatened by it. They are planning 20-20, for starters. It will comprise of a pool of retired cricketers and others who haven’t worn their national caps. Would you or I want to watch too many matches involving have been cricketers and might-be-one-day cricketers? Your guess is as good as mine. In case they are dishing out quality cricket, and quality players, the BCCI would do well to take them into the India 20-20 side or the ODI side.
There are a few things about this new league that I am not sure about.
1) What are the chances that a young cricketer would want to turn out for ICL and not for their state Ranji sides? Every promising cricketer dreams of wearing the India cap, and that is not something that ICL can do.
2) Would we get quality cricket at ICL? I mean, it would contain players past their prime who cannot make it to their national sides, or young players that do not have the capability yet of making it to their national sides. The thing with Kerry Packer was different. He managed to draw players who were playing in their national sides, if I remember correctly.
3) How can a 20-20 tourney make test cricketers? I am not even sure if it would create a talent pool of ODI cricketers. They are entirely different forms of cricket and Ranji trophy, organized by the BCCI, is the right breeding ground. To think that a 20-20 specialist is a prospect for test cricket is like saying that a pool player will play the billiards world championship. It is theoretically possible, but is practically highly unlikely.
4) Would any current India cricketer want to turn out for the ICL? I mean, Harbhajan, Pathan and Sehwag have been dropped but would they ever consider playing for ICL? They would rather concentrate on getting back to the regular Indian side.
This is why I feel that the ICL is taking itself too seriously and even the BCCI is taking the ICL too seriously. Well, one thing is definitely likely that the ICL would be better managed the BCCI. That is why we see Niranjan Shah shooting off letters on BCCI’s behalf, the BCCI asking their associations not to ally with the ICL. This stems out of its own lack of self-belief. I guess the BCCI knows that it is incompetent and has a long way to go in order to run the game properly, and the ICL might expose BCCI completely. But at the end of the day, the players want to represent India in recognized internationals. And the viewers want to see the India flag. The viewers want to see the current international stars meet in the stadium and fight it out.
That is why I feel that Kapil and team are taking themselves, ICL, too seriously and the BCCI is also doing the same. The ICL is creating entertainment. Let them not propound the fact that they are doing it for the good of the game. And the lesser we say about the BCCI, the better. It has succeeded in making a mountain out of a molehill. They have no right to try and remain the sole custodian of cricket in India. Let them see how the events pan out. We shall be watching for sure. We shall be waiting to see if at all a Sachin, Sourav, Dravid or Kumble will every play in the ICL. Let’s see Kapil and More and team earn some extra money. Oh! Sorry. Let’s see Kapil and More do supreme sacrifices for the betterment of cricket. This soap-opera has just started. Its not going to end soon.