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July 26, 2007
The breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL) seems to be gaining momentum with marquee names like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath most likely to join Brian Lara for the inaugural multi-million dollar Twenty20 tournament being funded by Zee Telefilms. "Yes, they (Warne and McGrath) are on the verge of signing and they are working out the last few details", Kapil Dev, chairman of the executive board, told Cricinfo. "We should release the news within the next 24 hours."
Dean Jones, one of the executive directors on the ICL board, speaking from Sydney told Cricinfo that by next week a few more big names are expected to join the ICL which could have a snowballing effect, convincing many others who have been thinking twice before signing up. "I have spoken to a lot of players over the last month and the interest has been high," Jones said. Although refusing to commit on the names of Warne and McGrath, Jones said that by next week everything will be out in open. "We plan to announce a few big marquee names that will generate further interest from others who have been thinking about the offers."
New Zealand Test team captain Stephen Fleming is one of the other names doing the rounds. Joining the ICL would of course force Fleming to retire from international cricket and it contradicts one of the stated policies of the new league to not encourage players from abandoning national duties. Fleming's compatriot Shane Bond is also said to have been approached, along with the recently-retired Sri Lanka batsman Russel Arnold and the former Australia allrounder Ian Harvey.
Meanwhile, Jones confirmed that the Western Australian duo of Justin Langer and Damien Martyn have decided to not play for the moment. "Yes, they have decided not to take the offer for this year."
The ICC, on its part, said that the ICL would not steal the spotlight from the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship slated to be held in South Africa this September. At the launch of the Twenty20 World Championship, Dave Richardson, ICC cricket manager, dismissed the ICL as a "local thing". Richardson said, "It [ICL] doesn't conflict with what we are trying to do in South Africa. It is not an international tournament."
The ICL is a Twenty20 series proposed to be held around October in India featuring six teams comprising four international players and two Indian stars, with the rest made up of younger players. "Potentially what we're about is trying to find young Indian kids to represent India, as well as potential young players from Kenya and Zimbabwe and maybe some Under-19s boys from Australia," Jones told Australian. "They're better off playing in this sort of league than playing club cricket for a month."
Kapil said the new league gave an opportunity for players to exploit the fact that India generated most of the revenue in world cricket. He termed the ICL "the most exciting thing," to happen to world cricket in recent times.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.