The gauntlet thrown by Indian Cricket League might be a mixed blessing for the players

Is the Indian Cricket League a welcome feature for the cricketers, who have joined it, and also for the sport?The logic is pretty simple. The list of those joined by Ambati Tirupati Rayudu, can at best hope for a few more seasons with Hyderabad Ranji squad. That too with a big rider – if only the -players sustain their form with the bat or ball.

The possible exception to this logic can be 21-year-old Alfred Absolom, who was the second highest wicket-taker last season with 24 wickets behind left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. His decision was perhaps the most surprising since he has age on his side unlike the others who somehow seemed to have resigned to the fact that their careers would be confined to playing South Zone at the most in domestic cricket.

But, the ICL crisis did raise the inevitable question - will this benefit the sport itself ?

“In a way, yes. For in one stroke, there are seven clear slots for all those Ranji prospects at the start of the season which otherwise was almost unthinkable,” says Shivlal Yadav, HCA secretary.

The critics also feel that this should see the bosses in the HCA, if they are genuinely embarrassed as G.Vinod, president of HCA , confessed openly, change their style of functioning. They feel the all-important selection process should on merit than based on quotas. It is not as if this disturbing trend is prevalent only in Hyderabad. It is present everywhere in domestic cricket. Most of the officials often bend the rules to accommodate their kids in different grades.

Then the Clubs wielding undue influence in selection is one thing which Shivlal Yadav is expected to address seriously.

For someone who played Test cricket, he should in his heart of hearts know that merit and nothing else should be the criterion.

It will be unfair to think that only money was the clinching factor for all these eight cricketers to join ICL.

The fear of biased selection was one of also a key.

“We are optimistic of ICL and BCCI working together. Well, if it doesn’t happen, we should consider ourselves just plain unlucky,” says Rayudu.. “It is not that we have joined forces to take on the HCA or the BCCI.

We looked at the ICL as a huge opportunity to play with the best in the business,” he explains.

Whether ICL will be a success or not, what is most eagerly awaited is the drastic change in attitude of the HCA bosses. Will they let HCA do something good for the sport is the big question which Shivlal should answer.

V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

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