Former India and Karnataka players Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath have expressed concern over the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA)'s move to start a Karnataka Premier League (KPL) with private franchise ownership of eight teams. The KSCA president, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, and secretary Brijesh Patel have pitched the league as a platform for district-level cricketers to reach the next level but Kumble and Srinath do not see it as a positive development.
Kumble, who led the Bangalore Royal Challengers during their successful run in the second edition of the IPL, said the KSCA should organise the KPL on its own without private team franchises. "What is the KPL about?" Kumble asked. "What is the point of the whole exercise? The KSCA could organise the KPL with BCCI annual grants."
He was also concerned about undesirable people creeping in. "In its current form, it would allow a backdoor entry into the KSCA for people not passionate about cricket," Kumble said.
Srinath wanted the state association to run the tournament by itself. "Taking cues from IPL, it is easy to convince local sponsors but it would be sensible for the KSCA to conduct a tournament on its own without franchises and then go to the sponsors with proper data," Srinath said. "If the concept doesn't click, the KPL sponsors will never come back to cricket. It is not only putting the sponsors at risk, even the kids too would have been led up the wrong path."
He also dwelt on the negative impacts the shortest format of the game might have on youngsters. "T20 is a great format that reaches new audiences but, at the grassroots level, it is not on," Srinath said. "You must orient the kids towards the longer version and then introduce the T20. Don't make these kids professional T20 players at the age of 17. Money at this stage is difficult to handle. Don't people realise this?"
The inaugural KPL, modelled along the lines of the IPL, is proposed to be played between September 12-27 in Bangalore. It will feature eight teams backed by the KSCA and Frontiers Group India, with the state association to host an auction on August 8. The eight so-called franchises will pick from a minimum of five from a pool of 40 domestic players in Karnataka. The 40 cricketers will be divided among ten zonal teams: Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Dharwad, Raichur, Tumkur, Shimoga, Bellary, Gulbarga and Belgaum. The KSCA has fixed the minimum bid at Rs 2 million.