ICL can start again - Himanshu Mody
Himanshu Mody, the business head of Zee Sports which ran the ICL, has said the league could be revived "if everything falls in place". His comments come in the aftermath of former IPL chairman Lalit Modi's revelations claiming that the BCCI had the "mandate to scuttle the Indian Cricket League (ICL)" and arm-twisted the global cricket community into falling in line.
"The matter is in the court and we are waiting for Lalit Modi to reveal more on how BCCI plotted to kill our league," Mody told Times of India. "If we are able to get more evidence, it will certainly make our case stronger against the BCCI. If everything falls in place, we may start our league again.
"Certain things revealed by Lalit were not even known to us," Mody said. "We knew that there was a stumbling block in running the league but we still went ahead. The intention was to serve the game."
Modi had claimed - in a series of tweets on Twitter on Tuesday - that the BCCI, in its attempts to scuttle the ICL carried out a sustained and widespread campaign against the privately owned 'rebel league' that eventually led to its closure; it "arm-twisted every cricket board and the ICC" to change their constitutions. The ICL was formed in 2007 post India's disastrous World Cup campaign. However, it seemed to have usurped a plan by the BCCI for a similar league. This set off a series of events, court cases, failed negotiations and bans on players and officials that led to the ICL's closure; the league's last competitive match was in November 2008. Modi said the ICL, was made redundant by being deemed unauthorised: the BCCI refused to recognise the league, in consequence to which the ICC and most national cricket boards refused to do so as well. The ICL, though, moved court, contesting the BCCI's right to represent "India".
In an interview with DNA Lalit Modi elaborated on the fear within the BCCI of the ICL, especially the fact that youngsters were joining it. "Yes, this [youngsters joining the ICL] was a serious concern," Modi said. "They were deserting their state teams. Further, the ICL had proposed to hold matches at the same time as BCCI international and domestic fixtures and as such that would have had a major impact on domestic cricket." There were at least 85 Indian and 60 foreign players aligned with the ICL.
Modi hinted that though there was resistance to the BCCI's decision from the England, Pakistan, Bangladesh and New Zealand boards, they were pressurised into following the Indian board's stand - a stand only few in the board were party to. "There was resistance from ECB due to anti-competition laws in the UK. There was also resistance from PCB, Bangladesh and New Zealand as a large number of their players had joined the ICL and if it was to be branded as unauthorised cricket then, they would lose the services of these cricketers.
"The players themselves had, for the first time, an opportunity to earn more than they could by playing for their country and as such could not be denied the opportunity. The ICC, as governing body of the game, was approached by the ICL for approval, which normally should not be denied.
"As you know, only a few are involved in the decision-making process in the BCCI. And once they have decided, the rest go along and rubber-stamp it. There was actually little or no discussion."
Modi indicated that the formative plans for the IPL, launched in April 2008, had been on the "drawing board" when the ICL was launched, the question being asked at the time, was whether the BCCI, "would have been able to launch it (the IPL) in the first place" had the ICL been allowed to grow. The "cheque book power of the potential of the ICL" Modi said, would have led to "a bidding war for the players."
Former India captain Kapil Dev, who is the head of the executive board of the ICL, said it was time to "look ahead". "We have to look ahead and think how our presence can help the game. If the ICL would start again, I don't mind doing it all over again."
Former England captain Tony Greig, one of the founding members of the ICL, described Modi's comments as "interesting". "As I understand, there is a pending court action," Greig told Mid-Day, "so I cannot make any observations [on Modi's comments]. Once I am a little clear on this, I would be more than happy to speak on those days," he added.
The ICL however, has other problems to contend with. The league is yet to pay some of the players who participated in it: 19 Pakistan players, who were part of the league, are yet to secure payments of US$2 million still owed to them, and filed a legal notice in February last year. Moin Khan, the former Pakistan captain, who coached the Lahore Badshahs side in the league and represented the players as well had told ESPNcricinfo in January this year that "none of the officials are picking up the phone now, we've been trying them for months". He added that it was not just players from Pakistan who were owed money: "Millions of dollars are owed to players from Australia, New Zealand, West Indies. We've been in constant contact with Tim May but we've been told now that a legal process could be very lengthy, expensive and not guarantee that we get our money."