Jason Gillespie, the former Australia fast bowler, has been saddened by the mass exodus of players from the ICL and believes the unofficial Twenty20 league will continue to struggle for traction in the mainstream cricketing market until it is officially recognised by the ICC. He does not expect the cash-strapped ICL to conduct a tournament in 2009, but remains hopeful that a successful legal challenge to the ICC could pave the way for a return the following year.
"It's incredibly sad but it all comes down to that issue of recognition," Gillespie told Cricinfo. "With my team, the [Ahmedabad] Rockets, we have already lost quite a few young Indian players back to official cricket. I don't begrudge them that. They have to make a living and they don't want to be ostracised anymore.
"What is killing the ICL is that the ICC refuses to give it recognition. They are being squeezed by the BCCI, so the ICC's fall-back position is to label it a domestic tournament. That's their get-out-of-jail-free card. The ICL is going to struggle until it is recognised by the ICC. The players involved in the ICL just want to play cricket. That has been quite hard for some of them, especially the younger guys, when they've had their status taken away."
Gillespie, like many of the ICL's high-profile players, has yet to be paid in full for his two seasons of service to the ICL. But while younger cricketers have rushed to take up the BCCI's amnesty offer, Gillespie, who has retired from first-class cricket, has pledged to remain loyal to the Zee Telefilms-backed league.
"I'm not giving up hope on the ICL," he said. "If I'm to be completely honest, I'm not convinced that there will be a tournament this year, but hopefully they'll get it back together for 2010. There's still a chance. I know the ICL is keen to explore the legal route, the restraint of trade argument. They've been advised that legally they have a pretty strong case. But at the end of the day, until we get recognition it will be an uphill battle.
"It's no secret that they've fallen a bit behind in their payments. The ICL management have been in contact with me and they have reassured me that they will settle their dues as soon as they can. I trust in that correspondence. I have a contract with them, and I would like to see it out."