An ICL hand in the IPL

Phil Russell ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Phil Russell's status at the Kingsmead ground is unique - the much-respected curator is probably the only person involved with the IPL and its bitter rival, the ICL. Russell, who was the ICL's curator last season, is currently an advisor on the ground preparations at Kingsmead for the IPL tournament.

The antipathy of the Indian board - which owns the IPL - towards the ICL is famous: it has adopted a heavy-handed approach to players, officials, groundsmen and scorers, even commentators, involved with the unofficial league. It has even sought to influence other boards to adopt a similar stance. Somehow, Russell has slipped under the radar.

He entered into the reckoning when the ground's assistant curator was posted to Newlands to get that ground ready in time for the tournament and the Natal board sought someone with experience to fill the gap. Russell has been associated with the Kingsmead stadium for two decades and coached the Natal team, including Kevin Pietersen, for two years.

Then came the ICL. "He has been with us for the last two years," Kiran More, a member of the ICL's executive board, said. This year, too, we have asked him to come during July-August to take a look at the grounds and get them in shape for the November season."

Russell isn't the only ICL connection - the overhead sky cameras the IPL is using this season was used by the ICL in its last season. The camera - which slides on a cable approximately 40 feet above the centre pitch - is owned by the same company that loaned it to the ICL.