Absolem and Sriram sign on with ICL

At least six more players have signed with the Indian Cricket League (ICL), according to sources in the cricket fraternity. Alfred Absolem became the eighth Hyderabad player to join, while Sridharan Sriram became the first former Indian player to sign on. V Devendran, the Twenty20 specialist from Tamil Nadu, and his team-mate Dakshinamoorthy Kumaran, have also reportedly joined the ICL.

Meanwhile the Hindustan Times reported that Shalabh Srivastava, Ali Murtaza and Avinash Yadav of Uttar Pradesh have also signed up with the ICL. It was learned that the ICL are in talks with several more of the UP players while those who have already signed have been asked to report in Mumbai, where Zee Telefilms will hold its first major press conference regarding the ICL on Thursday, August 23.

Absolem, the promising young fast bowler, was part of the Hyderabad Cricket Association XI team that is taking part in the Buchi Babu Memorial tournament in Chennai, but withdrew on Thursday night, having agreed terms with the ICL. This happened a day after seven of his team-mates signed up with the ICL. Absolem has played just one full season for Hyderabad but had an instant impact. He picked up 30 wickets from six matches at under 20.

Sriram, who played his early cricket for Tamil Nadu, and then won eight India ODI caps, albeit playing without much distinction, averaging just 13.50 with one half-century, recently moved to Maharashtra and was playing for them as a professional. Devendran, a medium-pacer who hits the ball a long way, was used effectively by Tamil Nadu in the inaugural domestic Twenty20 championships and was unlucky to not figure even in the long-list of 30 India probables. Devendran is considered a Twenty20 specialist, and has not played first-class cricket.

Interestingly the three cricketers from UP to have signed up are all youngsters. Srivastava, the left-arm seamer, had a bright showing for India Under-19 several seasons ago, but failed to break into the bigger leagues. At 25 he is the oldest of the UP players to join the ICL. Ali Murtaza, the all-rounder, is only 17, and has played just three first-class matches. Avinash Yadav, the left-arm spinner, is 20 and also has played three first-class matches.

UP were in a crisis of sorts as it is, with five of their cricketers, Srivastava among them, having applied to move to Railways at the start of this domestic season.