West Bengal sports minister backs unofficial league August 23, 2007

State minister allows ICL use of Eden Gardens

The Indian Cricket League (ICL) has received support from an unexpected quarter with West Bengal sports minister Subhash Chakraborty saying the ICL would be allowed to use the Eden Gardens and other grounds in the state.

"Whatever facilities we have, we will make available to the boys who have been punished, particularly by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)," Chakraborty told NDTV, an Indian television channel. "I have no objection. All the fields will be available for them as all the fields are available for CAB. The owner of the fields is the state government not any other body. The Eden Gardens was looked after by CAB. Now the lease period is over and it is state government's property. If Kapil and others like to play in Eden Gardens, I would allow it. What is the harm in it?"

The minister's public support for the Subhash Chandra-owned Essel Group's venture has come as a surprise as the current CAB president Prasun Mukherjee has the backing of the Sharad Pawar-led BCCI regime.

The BCCI decided not to recognise the league and barred the defecting players from playing for India or at the domestic level, besides withdrawing all financial benefits.

The ICL has managed to lure as many as 44 Indian first-class cricketers and seven overseas players, including Brian Lara and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq, in the initial list for its proposed Twenty20 tournament expected to be held in October.