'The battle is not over' - Greig
Though the ICL has received a major setback with the mass exodus of 79 of its Indian cricketers, Tony Greig, a senior member of the ICL board, has said though the time is not right for the league to fight the situation, it did not mean that the battle is over for them.
"If the players are seeking reinstatement in order to play first-class cricket in India and are also trying to break into the IPL then it's natural that there will be a view that the ICL is winding down," Greig told Cricinfo. "(But) I don't think Subhash Chandra (who owns the ICL) sees it that way. He is being realistic, the financial crisis has hit the media industry hard and cash is tight. He has obligations to the ICL players which he is working through. This is not the time to be fighting but that does not mean the battle is over."
Greig, who played a key role in setting up the league in 2007, also said that the players' decision to leave was "perfectly understandable" and added that the league will now have to recruit replacements if it plans to hold a "meaningful" event in the near future.
"This all seemed to me to be perfectly understandable but the ICL will now have to face the prospect of recruiting other players or there is no prospect in the short term of a meaningful tournament," he said. "There is however one other important point that needs to be made and that is the issue of the 'restraint of trade' and 'inducement to breach contract' court actions being brought by the ICL against the BCCI and the ICC. These actions need to run their course and until they have its not appropriate to speculate on what will happen to the ICL."
The ICL plans to restart its international schedule in October after cancelling its March tournament due to the global financial crisis that left the players with little cricket, leading to the mass exodus.
"The ICL has encouraged the players to go down this path," he said. "When the financial crises hit it was decided to cancel the planned March tournament and as a result the short term prospect of cricket for many of the ICL players diminished. At this point it became difficult for the ICL to insist that players stayed. This particularly applied to the ICL Indian players. As a result the ICL have encouraged its players to take advantage of the situation and try and get themselves back into the establishment game."
Greig also claimed that the Indian board's amnesty scheme was a bit of a compromise, considering that they had originally banned the ICL players "forever". "The BCCI has been pushed by the ICC to resolve the ICL issue," he said. "There have been meetings between the BCCI, the ICC and the ICL but they didn't resolve the issue. In fact, it got to a point where someone had to do something and so the BCCI set a date. This move was a bit of compromise, as there was a time when they were saying that the ICL players would be banned forever."
He pointed out that the BCCI was missing an opportunity by not arriving at an understanding with Zee, the media group that owns the ICL, and hoped that the situation will change "in the best interests of all cricketers".
"I always thought that a compromise would resolve the issues and I am still of the view that the BCCI are missing an opportunity with Zee," he said. "There is always a chance that there will be a change in attitude because one should always remember that cricket administrators move on far more quickly than those who run big businesses. Who knows what will happen in the next year or two. Hopefully, whatever it is in the best interests of all cricketers."
Ranjit Shinde is a senior producer at Cricinfo