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Ajay S Shankar and Nagraj Gollapudi
May 13, 2009
Madan Lal, the former India allrounder and coach, has applied for a release from the ICL in what is the first officially known response from the unauthorised league's players and support staff to the BCCI's recent amnesty offer. Lal, who was coach of ICL's Delhi Giants, said he expected more cricketers and some support staff to follow suit and hoped the BCCI would utilise his services appropriately.
"I have applied for a release from the ICL contract," Lal told Cricinfo. "I am thankful to the BCCI for allowing an opportunity for those with the ICL to return to the official fold. I have coached various Indian teams at different levels before and I hope the BCCI will utilise my services and experience in the best manner possible."
Lal's request followed an ICL communication to its players and support staff last week to send in their requests for a release, if needed, before May 15. The ICL will then hold a management meeting, possibly on May 18, to decide on these requests and the future course of action.
Sandeep Patil, Balwinder Sandhu and Karsan Ghavri, three former India players, and Ajit Wadekar, a former India captain, had approached the ICL for a release before the BCCI's offer because of a "lack of adequate cricket".
"Days before the BCCI decision, three of us coaches - Sandeep Patil, Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Dhaka Warriors coach) and myself - had a meeting with Himanshu Mody [ICL business head] and Kiran More [ICL board member]," Ghavri told Cricinfo. "We told them about our issues including no cricket being played from November 2007 and also about the salaries not being paid after that. Keeping in the prevailing conditions, we asked them to release us. We then got a call saying we were free to leave and would get our release letter by May 20. On April 30, Ajit Wadekar and I submitted the application for a release."
Patil, who had coached ICL's Mumbai Champs, had stood down from active duty by the end of the last season due to "personal reasons". "At the meeting with the ICL, they gave the coaches the option to continue or step down," Patil told Cricinfo. "In any case I had resigned even before the BCCI decision to grant amnesty to the ICL players, coaches and backroom staff. I have no complaints and no regrets."
ICL officials, however, refused to confirm whether they had received any official requests from players or support staff for a release. "We remain confident about our future plans, especially the October programme," an official said. The ICL had cancelled its March tournament due to the deepening economic recession and the non-availability of Lahore Badshahs, the Pakistan team, due to cross-border political tensions following the Mumbai attacks.
"I have had an excellent relationship with the ICL over the last two years and I have no complaints at all about that association," Lal, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad, said. "But now I feel it's the right time to move on professionally. There are many other ICL players and support staff who think similarly." Apart from his ICL commitments, Lal runs a coaching academy in Delhi and has a media contract with a television channel.
The BCCI had announced on April 30 that ICL players and support staff who wished to return to the official fold should do so by May 31. These players would be immediately allowed to play domestic cricket, including the IPL, and will become eligible for international cricket after a 'cooling period' of one year. Significantly, the ICC's new rules for official and unofficial cricket, which aims to plug existing loopholes, will come into force from June 1.
BCCI officials were not available for comment but it's understood that the board has written to various state associations to confirm the amnesty offer and stipulate the norms that needed to be followed while readmitting such players. "We have been told that we would either have to produce an NOC from ICL or hand over a copy of the contract termination letter that has been sent by us to ICL," a senior ICL player told Cricinfo. "We might then have to sign an official undertaking with the BCCI, which would bar us from participating in leagues or tournaments not authorised by the Indian board."