Indian Cricket League May 20, 2009

ICL releases 50 players before amnesty deadline

The ICL has decided to release around 50 players who had sought a return to official cricket. Those released are believed to include New Zealand's Shane Bond, Pakistan's Imran Nazir and Naved-ul-Hasan, Bangladesh's Habibul Bashar and Deep Dasgupta, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala and Hemang Badani from India.

The league will now adopt a two-pronged strategy: start activities afresh by holding talent identification camps and clinics at the six grounds that it controls in India, and pursue legally the ICC's refusal to grant it recognition.

"We will now focus on our October tournament programme," Himanshu Mody, the ICL's business head, told Cricinfo. "We decided to release these players because the ICL is about cricketers, we wouldn't want to stand in their way. We understand that they want to leave us to progress in their careers. You could soon see some of these players in action at the official level, either playing, coaching, or in a management role. Some of them may even turn up for the IPL, which is good for them. We are only happy to help them benefit professionally."

These players - among the 85 Indians and 70 foreigners with the ICL - had applied for release from the league after various national boards echoed the BCCI's amnesty offer made on April 29. They were asked to put in their requests by May 15, facilitating a return to the official fold by May 31, a day before new and stringent ICC rules on unofficial cricket come into force.

Dasgupta, the former India wicketkeeper who played for ICL's Royal Bengal Tigers, welcomed the league's decision and called it a "positive development" for the players. "It's good to hear about this," Dasgupta told Cricinfo. "It's in line with the ICL's concept that they are always for the cricketers. I am now looking forward to playing in the official set-up and take my career forward."

Even though the ICL has hinted that Bond is in the process of being released, the player decided against commenting at this juncture. "There is no update, nothing yet," Bond told Cricinfo.

ICL officials, meanwhile, also confirmed that plans to take on the ICC in a legal battle are still on track. "You can expect a movement on this next week," an official said. Last month, the ICC had rejected the ICL's request for recognition to end months of uncertainty over the issue, including two failed rounds of official talks between the BCCI and the ICL.

The ICL board took the decision to release these players during a meeting on May 18 and said in an official statement that the league "will continue to bring up and nurture younger talents for future". "A few domestic and overseas players and support staff have approached us with an application to be released from ICL to pursue cricket with the state associations," the statement said. "The same was due to the announcement made by the BCCI offering to take the players back into their fold."

Mody dismissed suggestions that the exodus would cripple the league. "It is not a setback," he said. "On the contrary, it will help us streamline the league, and come up with a better Twenty20 product in October. We are very confident going forward."

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Junaid on May 21, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    I am not too sure why many us here are so negative about the ICL. It was a league for cricket and they did all they could to make it the best, however, due to the politics of BCCI which unfortunately makes ICC a puppet in their hands, and a more stubborn and selfish approach from Lalit Modi and Co. which was just bureaucratic and red tapeism, the future of ICL was bleak. Sympathies to Kapil Dev and company for losing a battle of cricket. The release of international players by ICL is a mature decision and it should put IPL and BCCI to shame. It was the ICL who invented the 20-20 format for India and they have been kicked out… It is a shame and a sad day for cricket. Being an ardent cricket fan and a player myself I wish them all the best in their legal battle.

  • Bipul on May 21, 2009, 9:06 GMT

    ICL has run out of money. They have not paid salary to their cricketers and they are happy to release them to avoid further mess. Initially they talked about clauses that Players can't leave them so easily but now they are acting decent. All gimmicks. I am happy to see the death of ICL, it gave rise to madness like IPL. I hope once ICC bans such unauthorized cricket, it also puts some pressure on IPL to shorten its season and let some sense prevail in the cricketing world.

  • Pratyush on May 21, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    A sensible and mature response by ICL unlike its eccentric brother IPL. But I cant see ICL surviving anyway .. The players were mostly yesteryear's stars and retired names. And the future does not belong to the ICL, IPL however irritating has more quality cricket while ICL is a distant cousin in that terms. And that is the final deal. I hope players like Jhunjhunwala and Co. return to normal fold and gain by playing IPL as well. But this looks the end of ICL for sure.

  • Javed Munir on May 21, 2009, 6:15 GMT

    It was bound to happen, i see no future for ICL, they may have given millions of rupees to players but they gave irreparable loss to cricket and wasted the crucial & precious time of players who were at their peak like Mohammed Yousuf, Shane Bond etc.

  • Sridhar on May 21, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    Good move by ICL to release the players. Players may have their own reasons for moving out but this is never a setback to ICL's goal of finding young talent. Hope they get better player in their talent search.

  • Hetal on May 20, 2009, 20:29 GMT

    I hope ICL wins the legal battle and get's official recognition. I know ICL is doing the right thing by improving talent and not just a money making hog like IPL. I know future belongs to ICL. It will take time but we will eventually get there. Hail ICL!!

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