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The Board of Control for Cricket in India has said that it would take "an appropriate decision" on the proposal received from Zee Telefilms to start a parallel cricket league. This was announced in a media release issued by Niranjan Shah, the board secretary. Lalit Modi, the BCCI vice-president who would usually handle such matters, was in London on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
Inderjit Singh Bindra, also closely involved in the board's commercial aspects and the marketing of the game, told Cricinfo, "The board has already made its stand clear in the press release issued by the secretary. We have received an application from Zee Telefilms and will consider it. I have nothing more to add on the subject at the moment."
Subhash Chandra, the head of the Essel Group which owns Zee, had announced that the Indian Cricket League, as it's known, would have six teams with two Indian internationals, four overseas players and eight juniors in each side. He said they had got some big names but didn't want to reveal anyone at this point.
Earlier, Modi told The Times of India that the ICL was not going to be feasible without the BCCI's cooperation. "First, if he [Chandra] is planning a local tournament, he can't use our sports facilities without our permission," Modi said. "If he is roping in international players, that requires the sanction of BCCI and ICC and I haven't heard about it till now. The [Indian] Board does not give private parties permission to do anything like this."
Interestingly, Modi himself had floated the idea of a similar league a decade ago, an idea that couldn't progress beyond the BCCI's red tape. One of those involved in that project wa Arun Lal and on Wednesday Lal gave a thumbs-up to Chandra's plan. "This is the way forward", Lal told Cricinfo. "There is too much time wasted on other things, like who will be the next coach, and we are skirting the real issues. The reason why Australia keep winning is not because of a coach. They are winning because they have a strong domestic structure that keeps churning out world-class players. They have the necessary academies that keep nurturing the talent."
The BCCI, Lal said, should channelise 90 per cent of its energies into this sphere of activity.. "This was what I felt eight years ago and this is what I still feel is the way forward."
Chandra, however, said the ICL was not competing with the BCCI but complementing it and did not foresee any clash on the issue. He insisted he wasn't trying to do a Kerry Packer. "That was different. Kerry Packer had staged a coup by getting the big players on his side," Chandra told DNA, a Mumbai-based daily. "However, in the case of the Zee Group, we would continue to bid for BCCI telecast rights. The initiative that we would launch is about a talent hunt and a talent-building process.
"The initiative to launch the ICL should be seen as a challenge taken up by the Essel/Zee Group in BCCI's quest to improve Indian cricket. We are yet to get a reply from the BCCI. But the feedback so far is positive. While the previous regime was a control freak, things have changed now. Some within the current BCCI set-up are also thinking of creating a league format."