Thursday, July 26, 2007


When Subash Chandra (the promoter of Zee TV) announced the formation of the Indian Cricket League (ICL), there were many eyebrows raised. It was inevitable that Chandra would be compared with the audacious venture started by Kerry Packer (World Series) many years ago in Australia. By the way, it was a Packer innovation that has resulted in the use of coloured clothing and white balls in the one-dayers. It was also a Packer channel-Channel 9 that has since stayed at the forefront of live cricket telecasts.

Packer started the World Series as a response to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation(ABC) getting the exclusive rights to broadcast cricket down under. This was, despite Packer putting forward a better deal. The Indian scenario was no different. Subash Chandra could not bag the telecast rights. Matters went to the court and there was no relief to Chandra.

Packer roped in the likes of Tony Greig to persuade other players. Players all over the cricketing nations jumped in the bandwagon. There was, of course, no representation from India. The teams were nothing but test teams. The ICC was not willing to recognize this breakaway tour and so the players were promptly banned from international cricket. The records are still not included in the official first class records.

Kapil Dev has been the most visible face of ICL till today. Chandra hopes to do what Packer achieved through Greig. But there is a difference. Current players have not jumped at the idea and neither there is any chance of them doing so in the future as well. It is only a few retired greats like Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath who are supposed to have given their nods. Cricketers of today are paid handsomely and to a certain extent, the present players are not as rebellious as those who took part in the World Series. Will Ponting be like Ian Chappell or does any present West Indian player command the respect of Viv Richards.

The World Series made the cricket authorities in Australia to end the dispute and since then Channel 9 has had the telecast rights. This was mostly because the official test teams were being beaten and partly because the paying public was more eager to watch cricket played by stars in a different way. There is no possibility of it happening in case of ICL.
At least the formation of a parallel cricket body was expected to bring some sanity to the working of the BCCI. Going by the response of the players, it also seems farfetched.

The ICL may end up like another Lashings that ropes in famous cricket players of the past and the present for large payments. The only aim is to provide some entertainment and occasionally, contribute to charity. Lashings is no serious cricket club; it is like a cricketing version of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Subash Chandra is no Kerry Packer and it would be great if he were able to repeat the achievements of David Folb (the promoter of Lashings).

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