Sun, Aug 05, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Indian cricket heads for showdown over Twenty-20 league

AP, NEW DELHI

Indian cricket is heading for a showdown over an unofficial Twenty-20 event that has rankled the national board.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday threatened to impose a life ban on any player daring to play in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), promoted by a television company.

"Players who take part in the Indian Cricket League will never be eligible to play for the country again, it's up to the players to decide what they want," board secretary Niranjan Shah said.

The BCCI is feeling uncomfortable by the presence of Kapil Dev, India's 1983 World Cup winning captain, among the high-profile names aligning with the ICL, which was dubbed a rebel event after its request for recognition was rejected by the board.

Sandip Patil, Madan Lal and Balwinder Sandhu, all members of the 1983 World Cup champion team, have joined Dev in signing up with the unofficial cricket league. They have taken up coaching assignments for ICL teams that are set to feature some top foreign stars and Indian youngsters.

Lal and Sandhu had opened India's attack during the triumphant 1983 World Cup campaign.

The Indian cricket board has tried to block the ICL's progress by making it difficult for the unofficial league's promoters, Zee Television, to hire cricket ground keepers and recruit players.

Shah said cricketers featuring in the rebel series would also be refused permission to play in the domestic tournaments, which might compel the state associations and players' employers to dissuade young cricketers from going against the BCCI's directive.

The board has threatened to withdraw the monthly pension of former international players if they join the ICL.

A special general body meeting of the BCCI has been summoned next week, which will consider any action to be taken against former skipper Dev, who has dared the board to sack him as chairman of the National Cricket Academy.

The BCCI has issued a circular to its affiliated units, asking all officials to refrain from any contact with the ICL.

Former test wicketkeeper Kiran More, who recently served as the chief national selector, has quit his elected position as secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association on the BCCI's directive.

But Dev refused to resign his honorary position as head of the national cricket academy, insisting that he was doing nothing wrong by promoting cricket.

Former West Indies skipper Brian Lara is the first big name to have confirmed his participation in the ICL.

The Indian news media has been linking the names of several other recently retired ace cricketers to the rebel event, but its promoters are yet to confirm any other names.

The rebel league has drawn a comparison with Kerry Packer's World Cricket Series that split world cricket in the 1970s.

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