ICC keen to install IPL model in USA
The ICC has advised cricket officials in America to install an IPL model to capitalise on the Twenty20 boom and generate funds for the game's grassroot development in the USA, IS Bindra, the ICC's principal advisor, said. The ICC told United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) to set up such a league "as fast as they can" during a meeting in January that was attended by Bindra and Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive.
"We suggested during that meeting that they organise a Twenty20 league based on the successful IPL model," Bindra told Cricinfo. "Like IPL, they should look at private ownership for teams, each of which can have a mix of foreign and local players. Initially, to get the league going, they can have more foreign players in a playing XI, more than the four allowed in an IPL team. Then, as the league picks up interest, they can look at increasing the local element."
Bindra, who has been specifically tasked by the ICC to develop cricket in the US, said he would pursue the idea with USACA officials during a meeting in Dubai on May 17 and 18. "What we are looking at is a top class event that will be fully backed by the ICC and will have some top international players," he said. "As we see it, many international players, except those from England, are usually free from May to September. This space could be utilised."
When asked about the American Premier League (APL), an unofficial private venture which unveiled its plans in March, Bindra said a successful official model was always the best response. "I feel that regulation is not the only way to curb unapproved ventures. You need to have a successful alternative, too, like how the BCCI developed its Premier League as a viable model (to the ICL)." The APL is being organised by Jay Mir, a businessman who signed up Sir Richard Hadlee as consultant and former players like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Graeme Hick for a six-team league to be staged in October in New York City.
Bindra said that a "large market" for cricket exists in the US - with its immigrant Indian, Pakistani and West Indian population - that has not been fully utilised. "There have been some ad-hoc attempts to organise some leagues and events in the US, but none of them happened on an official platform and were poorly planned efforts," he said. "Now, we have a Twenty20 boom worldwide and we need to capitalise on that. Twenty20 is the nearest cricket can come to baseball in terms of time, excitement and even glamour. It's the closest cricket can come to having an American flavour and we have to move in now."
Official cricket in the US has largely been a stop-start affair with the local governing body rendered ineffective since the early 1990s due to large-scale infighting. The USACA was twice suspended by the ICC for its dysfunctional administration and readmitted into the official fold only last year after elections were held.
Bindra said that the USACA, which is headed by Gladstone Dainty, a businessman, is now on the track to stability, especially with the recent appointment of Don Lockerbie, COO and venue development director of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, as its chief executive. "The time is right now to plan the big step forward," Bindra said.
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo