After the fiasco over telecast rights two years ago, Subhash Chandra, Chairman of Essel Group, does not seem to have forgiven the Indian Cricket Board. On Tuesday, at a press conference held in the Capital, the media baron and Zee supremo sprung a surprise with the announcement that he was going to set up the Indian Cricket League jointly with IL&FS. In effect, this will be a breakaway cricket league n the lines of Australian businessman Kerry Packer who challenged the might of the ICC in the seventies by starting the professional World Series Cricket.
The Indian Cricket League (ICL) will be the richest professional cricket league set up in India, with an annual prize purse of $ 1 million. The ICL will involve young talented players being identified from all over India, and trained to compete at the highest levels and then playing for their respective regions alongside top international stars.
Said Chandra, “It troubles me that a country with more than a billion cricket fans and millions of cricket enthusiasts fares so poorly at the international stage. A new approach must be taken for the sport to grow and prosper in the years ahead. We need to provide an environment for young, talented, upcoming players that will keep them motivated and interested in developing their careers in the sport of cricket.”
The Indian Cricket League will be launched as early as possible this year. There will initially be 6 teams taking part in a league format leading up to semi finals and finals. By the third year, the ICL promises to increase to 16 teams comprehensively representing all of India. The matches will be held in both ODI as well as 20:20 format with teams playing home and away. Each team will also have first and second division sides so as to maximize talent utilization. These teams will be regularly sent to international cricket playing nations so that psychologically they are well prepared to take on the world of cricket.