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July 30, 2007
Ricky Ponting has hit out at the proposed Indian Cricket League (ICL), saying the million-dollar series threatens to tempt ageing cricketers into early retirement while luring youngsters away from national duty.
"It's only a concern if there is huge money involved in it," Ponting said. "If this sort of stuff gets off the ground, these guys won't even be playing with their mates, they'll be thrown into made-up teams. You'll be out there by yourself and trying to win some money," he was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.
"The other thing being talked about is this [Allen] Stanford guy in the West Indies. The $23 million he's said to be offering is a concern because the way I look at it is people getting towards the end of their international career will think, 'If I'm guaranteed that, this kind of money might be a good thing.'"
Ponting felt such a league suits only the likes of Brian Lara, for whom money can be a motivation to carry on for a bit longer after giving up his international career. "I think it will only be people towards the end of their careers like Lara [who was last week signed by the ICL]. Look, it might work out really well for them -- play a bit more cricket for money on top -- but it's not something I've looked at."
Concerned about the impact that the ICL could have on youngsters, Ponting said it would hardly be of any benefit for young cricketers to play in the series, which was more of a money-making exercise. "I'm not sure what these 18 or 19-year-olds who aren't State-contracted will learn from Twenty20 cricket. I read where Deano [Dean Jones] said it will help these guys out. It won't help them out; it will help Dean out. It will help the people running the event.
"I can't see how these young kids playing Twenty20 cricket will do much in giving them an upbringing in learning much about the game."
The ICL is a fantastic concept but from the bigger point of view, I think Stanford is making the real moves ... You could have a whole new development in the game with international tournaments. Twenty20 shouldn't take over from 50-overs cricket and Tests will always be the pinnacle, but we'd be silly to get in the road of Twenty20.
Jones had said that the ICL will not poach any contracted players from state or national teams and believed that the series would help young talented players. "We won't be looking at any Australian players or state players because it will clash with their commitments and we don't want guys to break their contracts . . . far from it," Jones said. "We might look at helping some young 18 or 19-year-old players who are not playing for their states.
"Last year in Australia of more than 120 guys to get contracts, only a handful were teenagers. They would be better off mixing with Brian Lara than staying home and playing club cricket.
"People are us calling rebels but we are angels. We might Americanise it and trump it up a bit, and change a few rules, and we will give players a say in what rules deserve to be changed. We are trying to give young players a chance and they could come from places such as Kenya and Ireland. Each of the teams will also have their own academy. The series will run for a month over the next three years."
Former Australian coach John Buchanan, meanwhile, felt that Allen Stanford's proposed Twenty20 bash in West Indies was a bigger revolution waiting to happen than the ICL.
"The ICL is a fantastic concept but from the bigger point of view, I think Stanford is making the real moves. The stumbling block for him is getting the backing of the West Indies Board," he said.
"If that happens, you could have a whole new development in the game with international tournaments. Twenty20 shouldn't take over from 50-overs cricket and Tests will always be the pinnacle, but we'd be silly to get in the road of Twenty20."
Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur