Monday, January 26, 2009


Pakistani ICL Players On The Warpath

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And about time too, if I say so myself. Word has it that all Pakistani ICL players who have been barred from representing their provincial sides, and therefore ineligible to represent their country, are taking legal action against the PCB for denying them the right to earn a living as and where they see fit. That this class of legal action was inevitable was quite obvious, however, this particular comment brought a wry smile to my face:
"Sources say that the PCB itself is interested in removing the ban from its players for appearing in the rebel league and wants the cricketers to initiate legal action so that the board will have grounds to reinstate them without losing face in front of the ICC or the Indian Cricket Board."

When was the last time an administrator coerced legal action upon itself to fight a third, and seemingly omnipotent, third party. The PCB receives no favours from the BCCI, yet the Pakistanis see fit to cow-two to the BCCI's every whim so as not to lose face. That's almost as inexplicable as Andrew McDonald being selected to play Test cricket.

While I have not had any exposure to Pakistan's employment laws, I don't imagine that they are so well developed as to allow the courts to compel the PCB to re-admit the banned players. However, we all know back-room deals hold precedence over the constitution in Pakistan and the courts will, in some way shape or form, find in favour of the dissenting players.

The question then becomes, what then will the BCCI do? Throw money at the PCB and bully them into enforcing an unwritten rule that ensures that ICL players remain ineligible to play international cricket? Probably.

A more pragmatic and practical solution would be to institute a total revamp of the domestic cricketing structure in almost all countries, an amalgamation of the various rival competitions and the inclusion of all forms of domestic cricket.

It will be an arrangement where franchises (if that is the chosen model) buy players who play solely for them, unless called up for national duty. A situation similar to international football where a Brendan McCullum would play only for Otago, or New South Wales, or the Kolkata Knightriders, not all three. This structure will require extremely tight management by the national boards and a water-tight contract which forces a player's employer / owner / franchise to release them for national duty, when asked by the national board.

International football has gone half way to this ideal world. However, it too has fallen prey to the power of those that wield the wads of cash. A power that has turned most international matches into mere exhibition games.

This idea is not revolutionary, nor is it ground-breaking. However, a successful implementation will require sleeves to be rolled up and noses to be put out joint. It will also require a resolute and strong-willed ICC to uphold the primacy of international cricket, particularly Test cricket, in concrete deeds and not just cheap words. Such a structure would also need to be accepted and championed by the BCCI (for obvious reasons) if it is to become, first a reality, then a success.

Quite frankly, the current office-bearers of the BCCI and the ICC have far too many political and personal agendas and are far too prone to severe bouts of greed for this to happen during their time in office.

Anyone willing to join forces to start a cricketing revolution?

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