Indian Cricket League April 29, 2009

BCCI offers amnesty for ICL players

Cricinfo staff

The Indian board has announced an "amnesty" for all Indian players associated with the ICL, who can return to official cricket provided they cut all ties with the unofficial league by May 31. The players who choose to return to the official fold will be eligible to play international cricket after a one-year 'cooling period' but can play domestic cricket from June 1, when the ICC's new rules on official and unofficial cricket come into force.

"A lot of cricketers and support staff with the ICL met us and told us that they committed a mistake by joining the ICL and they want to return to the BCCI," Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, said after a meeting of the board, where the decision was taken. "They will be allowed to play domestic cricket immediately. "

It's learnt that other national boards who have banned their ICL players from official cricket are expected to follow suit. There are at least 85 Indian and 60 foreign players aligned with the ICL, which is bankrolled by India's largest listed media company, Zee Telefilms and headed by the country's lone World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev.

The country standing to gain the most from the decision is Pakistan, which has 20 players in the ICL of whom half - including Mohammad Yousuf - could expect to play for the national side. New Zealand, which has lost its most potent fast bowler, Shane Bond, has already said it could waive the cooling-off period.

There was no immediate reaction from the ICL but, shortly after news broke of the amnesty, Cricinfo received a statement from the league. "Taking forward its sports performance evaluation process across all cricket operations, the ICL management has decided not to renew the contracts of some of the ICL players and support staff that have expired", the statement, by the ICL's head Himanshu Mody, said. "As cricket professionals they are free to decide and explore their options."

The "sports performance evaluation process" Mody referred to was a review, revealed to Cricinfo in February, of its underperforming players.

The ICL and BCCI have been at loggerheads ever since the league was announced two years ago, in the aftermath of India's disastrous World Cup campaign. It was a revolutionary idea but lacked official sanction and soon paid the price for that. The Indian board hit back by blacklisting the league and those who joined it, as players or support staff, and a few months later announced the formation of the IPL.

The BCCI's stand was then adopted by most other boards who lost players to the IPL, though the ban has been applied selectively across the ICC's member nations; of late some ICL players, especially in Pakistan and New Zealand, have been admitted back to domestic cricket.

The ban remained a controversial issue, though, and the ICL lobbied hard with the ICC to have the status revoked. The ICC set up meeting between the league and the Indian board but the BCCI did not appear keen on a resolution and the meetings came to naught. Earlier this month, the ICC formally rejected an application by the ICL for "authorised unofficial" status, saying it did not meet its criteria.

News of the amnesty is expected to be welcomed by ICL players, though their return to the official fold is still several steps away.

Hemang Badani and Rohan Gavaskar, two of the ICL's leading Indian players, called the BCCI's offer a "positive decision" and good for the players.

"Some of us have been stuck with the ICL and not knowing where we are headed cricket-wise, especially after the March programme was cancelled," Badani told Cricinfo. "Some of the ICL money due to us was not coming through either, possibly due to the recession. But mostly some of us were frustrated because there just hasn't been enough cricket for us in the ICL. Of course, we played some good cricket in the ICL but not the quantity we expected."

However, Badani, who plays for Chennai Superstars, said he would decide within a week whether to take up the offer and would weigh his options carefully.

Gavaskar, who plays for Royal Bengal Tigers, said he hoped the ICL would not come in the way of players who wish to represent their country. "It is a positive decision because the BCCI is giving the ICL player an option," he said. "If they don't make use of this option they can't blame the BCCI in future. Also the ICL had said initially when they were recruiting players that they would not come in the way of a player if he gets a chance to play for the country."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajit on May 1, 2009, 9:56 GMT

    This is the begining of the end for ICL for sure.They failed in providing cricket to the players and thats frustrating to say the least.Players like Ibrahim Khaleel,A Rayaddu,T P Singh ,G Vignesh etc can test their skill against the best of the current lot in IPL 3 instead of rubbing shoulders with a few retired players.A good news for Indian cricket.

  • Kamalakar on April 30, 2009, 19:45 GMT

    It is really great to hear BCCI is offering Amnesty for ICL. I really want to see players like "AT Rayudu" get back to the Arena atleast through IPL 3! Hope Rayudu is Listening!

  • M. on April 30, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    BCCI and the likes are all hypocrites.. they wants sponsors to pay for their games and players but would not allow them to host a cricket tournament. Banadi and Gavaskar are just succumbing up to the lack of cricket.. and squealing to BCCI's offer. In my opinion ICC should step up and use it's own spine for decision making. When a board like BCCI has more money that its commonwealth counterparts .. corruption is at its peak.

  • premkumar on April 30, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    Its a dream for every cricket player to play for their country. BCCI have at last made a right decision though it is late. But just think why did players join ICL in spite knowing its an unofficial league. The players who joined ICL though they performed well have not been considered by their national selectors. Now after they get some recognition and their national team is void of good players, they are now adding a clause/option left to be decided by the players. A perfect example is Rayudu who made a revolution in under 19 world cup and domestic leagues has not been given due consideration by the selectors. Is BCCI really helping players to play for their country or they aim for taking away all the players from ICL and want to prove that this rebel league does not exist any more. Finally ICL remains rebel.

  • venkatesh on April 30, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    By announcing such news arbitarily without consultation, /discussion & mutual agreement with Icl, under the perview of ICC , BCCI is acting like a bully & showing off its muscle & money power. BCCI assumes all the Indian players will fall in line to its dictat& so with those of other countries; What if this doesnot happen? Then it will be a loss of face for Bcci. There will be several ICL players who will think that their chance of playing main stream cricket is very low with the present competition, & would prefer to remain in icl , as it involves a monthin a year & the balance time they can concentrate in other activities. besides the retired cricketers will definitely not leave ICL. Bcci is also silent on the pending dues to be paid to the ICL players.

  • Gaurav on April 30, 2009, 8:04 GMT

    I just want to say that if ICC and BCCI do not recognise ICL and BCCI even do not want players associated with ICL to be commentator in cricket matches then it should even not allow so called official cricket to be telecast on TV network of ZEE TV. Can they do it ? It would show how determined they are for cricket and not for money.

  • Wasim on April 30, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    Its great decision. Now i request PCB to think about Pakistani Players who were a part of ICL as our talent like Yousaf, Razzaq, Rana Naveed, & Sami etc. As all of them are our national heros and every Pakistani Cricket Lover wants to see them in team.

  • Hari Sankar on April 30, 2009, 3:31 GMT

    BCCI does not recognize ICL, we can not blame ICL. ICL only started it all and BCCI saw the opportunity and with official tag, did not allow ICL to prosper. However in the interests of the sport in India, ICL should declare and wind up completely. BCCI or IPL should pay a compensation to ICL to cover for the wind up costs as the winding up would restore the focus on the sport without any divisions. Even if the compensation is not forthcoming, ICL should find ways of absorbing and clear the field for the bulldozer i.e., BCCI. There is no point in fighting with BCCI and conduct the sport and end up penalising the players for playing under ICL.

  • Abhishek on April 29, 2009, 19:18 GMT

    I have nothing against the ICL but as a true Indian and world cricket fan, I do not support ICL at all. Any league that is to be played in India should be endorsed by BCCI and ICC at the world level. Otherwise there will be 100's of leagues like these in world cricket and you cannot watch the best of cricketing talent competing against each other like in IPL which is an official league. One cannot just be jealous of BCCI and make false claims that BCCI influences ICC. There should not be any problem if other cricket member boards start leagues but one can again not blame BCCI if the other boards are incapable of doing this due to monetary reasons as I think for sure BCCI will be more than happy to send its players to these other official leagues if and when created. Great Decision BCCI to take all players into your fold again and saving their futures as last thing any fan wants is a sportsperson's future getting spoilt due to this situation.

  • Usual on April 29, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    BCCI, which is clearly afraid of healthy competition, is unethically exercising its money power on ICC. This does not bode well for the game. No true fan would like to see this happen to cricket.

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