Kapil Dev welcomes BCCI volte-face August 8, 2007

No ban for players who join ICL - Pawar

Cricinfo staff

Sharad Pawar: 'There is no confrontation between the BCCI and ICL, it is a media creation' © Getty Images
Sharad Pawar, the Indian board president, has said that the board will not ban players who join the Indian Cricket League (ICL). This announcement signals a volte-face by the board just days after its secretary Niranjan Shah said that players signing up with the league would be banned for life.

"There is no confrontation between the BCCI and ICL, it is a media creation," Pawar said. "We did not issue any statement on banning anybody for life if he joins another organisation."

Shah, meanwhile, expressed surprise at the statement. "Are you sure he said that? I don't know what to say now," he told the Indian Express in Mumbai. A formal announcement regarding the board's stand on the ICL is expected later today in New Delhi, where BCCI officials meet to discuss the issue.

Pawar's statement came a day after Congress leader Digvijay Singh had appealed in a letter to him not to take a "rigid stand" against the ICL.

Kapil Dev, chairman of ICL's executive board, said he was happy with Pawar's comment. "It is a positive statement and I welcome it wholeheartedly,'' Kapil told UNI. ''I have great regard for Mr Pawar and with this statement he has enhanced his stature as a true lover of sport, especially cricket. We at the ICL are grateful to him for making the BCCI's stand clear.

"The ICL has been formed to give a boost to the game in the country. It is in no way, and I repeat in no way, a parallel body or in competition with the BCCI.'' Kapil said the ICL would provide opportunities for players but would not interfere with their national team duties.

''For example if Sachin [Tendulkar] agrees to play in the ICL and is also selected to represent the country, he will have to perform his national duty first. I will not let him play the ICL at the cost of the country."

Gaurav Seth, the ICL's head of marketing and communications, was cautious in his reaction to Pawar's statement. "To say anything on this issue immediately will not be appropriate because we have to ascertain the context of Pawar's statements and how the BCCI will implement it. But yes, it's a major climbdown from BCCI's recent stance against us and I welcome the statement."

The ICL, which is scheduled for September, will feature six teams playing Twenty20 matches. Each team will comprise four international players, two Indian internationals and eight upcoming players. Brian Lara is the only confirmed player on the ICL list.