Indian Cricket League March 31, 2009

ICL release offer comes with return ticket

The ICL is willing to release some of its foreign players from their contracts so they can play international cricket but expects them to return when the league restarts its international Twenty20 programme in October-November. The unauthorised league is also gearing up for a major legal battle if its application for recognition is turned down at an ICC meeting next month, a senior ICL official said.

"We came to know that some of our players from New Zealand and Pakistan would be considered for their national teams if they obtain a release from their contracts," the ICL official told Cricinfo. "We are happy to oblige because having players from our league playing international cricket only adds to our value. We expect these players will play for us again when we restart our programme this year-end."

The official also said the ICL expected the ICC to take a decision on the league's request for recognition at its board meeting in Dubai on April 17. "If there is no satisfactory resolution at the meeting, we will take the legal route as we have stated all along," he said.

The ICL had cancelled its March tournament due to the deepening global recession and the non-availability of Pakistani players due to diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan, following the Mumbai terror attacks. "There are certain vested interests within the official establishment who are spreading the word that we are broke, and that we have no money to pay our players," the official said. "Payments are on track and, in the case of some players, have been put on hold pending a performance appraisal, which we have stated before."

The ICL hit the headlines last weekend after New Zealand's Sunday News reported that New Zealand players involved in the ICL have received an e-mail from the league stating that they will be released from their contracts if they request for a termination. Justin Vaughan, the chief executive of New Zealand Cricket (NZC), told the paper if these players end their association with the unofficial league, they will be immediately available for selection to the New Zealand national side.

Earlier, there were also reports from Pakistan that a few of their ICL players, including Mohammad Yousuf, were planning to end their association with the unauthorised Twenty20 league and return to international cricket. The Pakistan board has also indicated it would welcome their ICL players back to the national fold if they cut all ties with the unauthorised league.

Players associated with the two-year-old ICL have been barred from all official cricket in most countries, especially in India where the BCCI has adopted a hard-line stance against the private venture.

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo