ICL rebels happy to be back in mainstream cricket

June 2nd, 2009 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) It was money that lured them to the Indian Cricket League (ICL), but in two years the rebel players have realised they erred.
Recession has hit the ICL hard and luckily for the players, the Indian cricket board has come up with an amnesty plan and the players were quick to grab it to be back in mainstream cricket.

The amnesty scheme benefitted 79 active cricketers and 12 former stars players. Also availing of the board’s pardon were 11 support staff like trainers and physios.

Former Test player and national selector Ashok Malhotra said the ICL, which was promoted by the Essel Group, was severely hit by recession and thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for providing a lifeline to the distraught cricketers.

“For former players like me, money was the only reason for joining the ICL. But the Essel Group was finding it tough to run the league owing to the economic downturn. We haven’t been paid for the last seven-eight months and moreover there was no cricket. So there was no reason for us to continue with the ICL,” Malhotra told IANS.

“Now we will get back our pension and that will give us financial security. Also I can be back in the commentary box as I was in all official cricket matches,” he said.

Bengal cricketer Avishek Jhunjhunwala also had a sigh of relief and hopes that he can fulfil his dream of making it to the national team.

“We are thankful to the BCCI for allowing us to get back. Money was the only attraction for me to join the ICL, but the BCCI has also increased match fees in domestic circuits. The ICL is in a mess and we are lucky to get out of it,” said Jhunjhunwala, who is currently in London to watch the World Twenty20.

Jhunjhunwala feels that consistent performance in the Ranji Trophy can earn him a national call, something he came close to in 2007.

“I toured with the India A side and came very close to earning a call in the national team in 2007. Now I have to just perform consistently and be optimistic,” said the 26-year-old Kolkatan.

Former Test bowler Madan Lal, who was also a part of India’s 1983 World Cup winning squad, lauded BCCI’s gesture and said that active cricketers will now have a better future.

“I was just a coach with the ICL and for me money was the main factor. But young cricketers, who had joined the ICL, had an uncertain future. Having played for India at the highest level and also in the World Cup, I know the pride in representing the national team. For these young cricketers they will now have a bright future,” he said.

The decision to offer amnesty to the players was taken at the BCCI’s working committee meeting in April.

Among the 79 cricketers were Dinesh Mongia, Reetinder Singh Sodhi and Ambati Rayudu.

The 12 former cricketers were Ajit Wadekar, Erapalli Prasanna, Karsan Ghavri, Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Rajesh Chauhan, Ashok Malhotra, Bharat Reddy, Pronab Roy, Atul Wassan and Rajesh Kamath.

The BCCI in a statement said that after scrutinising their requests they wrote to the concerned state associations that these players are eligible to play in domestic tournaments from this year.

These players can now also take part in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in due course of time. The players will also be eligible for national selection though only after an year.

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