Rumours grow that he has withdrawn November 20, 2007

ICL organisers insist Lara is still on board

Cricinfo staff

Brian Lara: rumours continue to do the rounds © Getty Images
Organisers of the Indian Cricket League played down Brian Lara's absence from practice sessions, insisting that he was never scheduled to arrive in India until later this week.

Rumours have been circulating that Lara might have withdrawn after he failed to appear at the preparatory camps which got underway last week.

"Talks that Lara is not coming are mere speculations," ICL's marketing chief, Gaurav Seth, said. "We wanted the foreign players to start joining the team only from this week and are happy that Nathan Astle and [Johan] van der Wath have already joined us ahead of schedule. We are expecting Lara, Vikram Solanki and Nantie Hayward by the 21st or 22nd."

The organisers told the Indian Express that the Indian board had been "building pressure on Lara to cancel the ICL contract for the board-backed Indian Premier League (IPL)".

"The BCCI tried to do everything which could sway away players from joining the ICL," executive vice president, Ashish Kaul, said. "They even went to the extent of threatening players who wanted to join the ICL, they blocked stadiums being given to us ... but the ICL will be a success."

Reports have been circulating in the Caribbean that Lara's lawyers have contacted organisers informing them of his change of mind. He was one of the first players to sign for the ICL.