A few seasons ago, Ambati Rayudu made waves, scoring heavily in age-group cricket and then in the Ranji Trophy and was tipped as the next big thing in Indian batting
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Efforts by the Indian Cricket League (ICL) to sign up personnel for its inaugural tournament are gathering steam with a chunk of players from Hyderabad deciding to get on board, and some reports suggesting they have already signed up. In a swift response, the state association has recalled these players from the Buchi Babu tournament, currently in progress, and has sent replacements.
Ambati Rayudu, Anirudh Singh, who led Hyderabad's one-day team for part of the last season, Ibrahim Khaleel, Indershekar Reddy, Kaushik Reddy, Shashank Nag and D Vinay Kumar are reported to have already signed with the ICL.
The president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), G Vinod, described the development as "very embarrassing". "Seven of our players walking out will weaken the Hyderabad team but we will try and recruit fresh talent," Vinod told PTI. "The players joined the ICL in Chennai last night but informed the HCA this morning. I don't know why they have left. Had they informed the HCA before joining ICL, things would have been different."
Ganapathi Vignesh, the young Tamil Nadu fast bowler, has also reportedly agreed terms with the ICL.
While there is no confirmation yet of the financial deals offered to these players, it is understood that someone with Rayudu's background - he was once talked of very highly as an India prospect but has since slipped out of the limelight - would look for around Rs. 30 lakh (approximately $72,000) annually. It is learned that ICL will pay 25% of the fee up front and the remainder ino 36 equal monthly installments.
ICL has also approached several Railways players apart from JP Yadav, who recently declared an interest in the league. It is believed that players from Railways will face fewer hurdles as Lalu Prasad Yadav, the federal railway minister whose department controls the team, has offered the ICL grounds to play matches on. It is believed that some Railways players, including Sanjay Bangar, have been approached by the ICL, as have some Delhi players, Mithun Manhas among them.
Of the Hyderabad players approached, Rayudu is the most high profile. He made waves a few seasons ago, scoring heavily in age-group cricket and then in the Ranji Trophy and was tipped as the next big thing in Indian batting. However he faded away almost as dramatically as he came onto the scene. The others - Khalil (wicketkeeper), Indershekhar (left-arm spinner), Kaushik (mediumpacer), Shashank (opening batsman) who recently made a century in the KSCA invitation tournament, Vinay Kumar (middle-order batsman) and Anirudh Singh (left-hand batsman) - are all regulars in the Hyderabad team.
It is unclear is what stance the Indian board will take over players joining the ICL. When the BCCI's special general body meeting takes place on August 21 it is expected to make clear what penalties, if any, a player will face if he signs up with the ICL in addition to any imposed by the state associations.
It is widely believed that the BCCI will bar these players from taking part in any matches conducted under the auspices of the Indian board or its affiliates. Further, these players will be ineligible to hold office in the BCCI or be appointed as coaches or selectors once their playing days are over.
Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo