ICL announces four more tournaments for 2008
"The young Indian talent on display during the first season has opened the eyes of the world and already counties and various other cricket bodies are interested in some of the talent here," Chandra said minutes before the final between Chandigarh Lions and Chennai Superstars.
In addition to the existing Twenty20 Championships, which will be played in November-December next year, the first of the four new events will be the domestic 50-over championship that will be contested between the Indian players from the inaugural tournament's six teams in February 2008. A triangular Twenty20 will then be played between the best of the Indian, Asian and the Rest of the World XIs between February and March. The ICL Grand Championship, once again a 20-over format, will follow, with two new teams joining the existing six international teams.
Kapil Dev, the chairman of the ICL's executive board, said Chandra wanted the number of teams to be in double digits but was "happy to have two additional teams for the moment". Chandra explained the reason for increasing the number of teams. "I've got so many calls from various remote parts of India claiming they are talents who would love to join the ICL and I don't want to disappont them." Kapil will also be launching ICL academies in prominent cities in April and May.
The fourth new venture is the ICL Invitation Cup, which will test the popularity of the ICL, with teams from around the world being invited to play a Twenty20 tournament in September-October. There will be eight teams, including a best of ICL XI.
Kapil, who has been critical of the Indian board's attitude to the ICL, said he was satisfied with how things had turned out. "In five years time we will produce talent that will be fit to play for the country. I'll be disappointed if they [the board] do not want to include that talent."
There was the inevitable question about the financial aspect of the venture, but Chandra didn't reveal too many details regarding the balance sheet, only saying, "It's going as per the ICL financial model".
When asked if the BCCI might think of going back on their original decision of not recognising the ICL, Chandra spoke with the charm of a politician. "Reconciliation happens in case of a conflict. I don't think we've a conflict with the BCCI."
Chandra also mentioned that the ICL will be played at more venues, though he didn't specify which ones, and was confident that one of the bigger cities might be a venue for the Twenty20 championship next year.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo