The ICC has taken the first significant step towards resolving the contentious issue of unauthorised cricket - including the status of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) - by setting up a high-powered committee to study its legal aspects. It has also discussed the issue of global agreements to prevent cricketers from appearing in such games, Cricinfo has learnt.
The committee, which was formalised during the ICC's annual meeting in Dubai last week, includes Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, Norman Arendse, the Cricket South Africa president, Shashank Manohar, the BCCI's president-elect, Lalit Modi, a vice-president of the BCCI [and the IPL's chairman and commissioner] and David Becker, the ICC's senior counsel - business and commercial.
The committee was set up after officials were made aware the ICL may explore the possibility of coming under the governing body's umbrella as "a kind of authorised unofficial cricket" under a specific rule that deals with exhibition matches and other games of a similar nature. It is understood that preliminary discussions took place in Bangalore during a meeting of key ICC board members on April 18, before the inaugural IPL game.
When asked about the committee and its objectives, an ICC spokesperson said, "The purpose of the group is to ensure that whatever conclusion is reached is in the best interests of the game."
The issue of the ICL and its status came into focus on the sidelines of the ICC annual meeting last week when officials from India, England, Australia and South Africa met for a discussion on the proposed Twenty20 Champions League.
While India, Australia and South Africa are clear that players associated with the ICL cannot take part in the league, England will have to take a tough call on the issue as around 25 ICL players are currently playing for 15 English counties. Officially, the ECB does not support any involvement with unofficial cricket but, in this situation, has to operate within the stringent trade laws in England.
The ICC, meanwhile, has also sent a letter to the ICL seeking details of its correspondence with the BCCI on the issue of their status in the game. An ICL official told Cricinfo the letter was received last week and added the league is yet to send its response. Himanshu Mody, the ICL's business head, confirmed the development to Cricinfo but declined to comment on it. When asked about the letter, the ICC spokesperson said, "Dialogue and correspondence on the subject is ongoing."
According to ICL officials, they had first written to the BCCI in April 2007 informing them about their plans to hold a city-based Twenty20 league. "But they reacted harshly to the issue," an official said.
The BCCI is very clear it would not budge on the ICL. "We had received two or three letters from the ICL, but we made our position very clear early that they cannot be recognised," a BCCI official said. The BCCI has barred all official contact with players associated with ICL and expects all other members of the ICC to align with them on the issue.
The ICL has already organised three Twenty20 tournaments and a 50-over competition but its status was placed on the international cricket stage this April by Malcolm Speed, the former ICC CEO, who said the governing body had received a letter from the league seeking clarity on their existence. Speed, who was since told to go on "paid leave" by the ICC before his successor Haroon Lorgat took charge last week, had also said that the issue was being handled by the ICC's lawyers.
Later, Dave Richardson, who took over from Speed on an interim basis, said the ICC would go by the BCCI's policy towards ICL. "The ICL is a domestic event that takes place in India so our rules prescribe that any decision as to whether an event be regarded as official or not must be made by the country that event is played in," Richardson had said.