By Monty Python
The name Kerry Packer is deeply rooted in the evolution of modern one-day cricket. Cricket used to be a mundane affair with white dress, red cherry ball and simple minimalist television coverage. Packer changed that all single-handedly. In his rebel World Series, he introduced coloured cricket kits, white balls, day-night matches and multi-camera cricket coverage in his own network. Although, the puritans were all against his moves, condemning him as the one to taint the gentlemen's game, years after, it is his formula with which we now play and recognize the game.
Why remember Kerry Packer all of a sudden? Because another such revolution is set to happen again, this time in our own subcontinent with the formation of Indian Cricket League, or ICL. It all started on a typical media war for the right to telecast Indian Cricket. The Indian Cricket may not yet be worth their weight in gold, but the fans following, in the subcontinent of over one billion people, is enough to get any media Mughol to try and capture the largest market segment in the world, the Indian cricket fans. But when Subhash Chandra, as many may know, the owner of India's and this subcontinent's first satellite programming network, the Zee Television network and also owner of the Essel group, failed to win the bid to telecast the Indian cricket, he decided to follow the path that made Kerry Packer media history, and come up with ICL.
The ICL is somewhat like the rebel series of the Packer era, except you can expect more fireworks and buzz. His plans are huge and one that will empty his pockets by millions of dollars (about 100 million to be exact). So what is ICL all about? It's a cricket league that will not only contain cricketers from India but will also rope in the biggest names in the world of cricket, forming a mini-league where the titans clash with each other for big money, that is, about a million dollars for the winner, more than a world cup winner has won so far.
So far, Brian Lara, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and many just retired test cricketers have enlisted their names in the ICL. More famed names are expected. Initially the ICL will open with a 20 20 tournament, but as time goes by its format and the number of teams will expand. Not only international names, but Indian and Pakistani test cricketers, and former players have also been roped in. Kapil Dev and Dean Jones will oversee this league and the teams will be coached by legendary Indian ex-cricketers.
Already, it has caused much stir in the world of cricket. Lured in by the prize money, many cricketers from around the world have shown interest in playing for the ICL. And many more would have, if the boards didn't declared war on this extravaganza. The Pakistan, the Indian and the Sri Lankan cricket boards have already stated they will not support the ICL and any playing cricketer to play in this league will be banned from the national leagues. But not subdued by this war chant, Subhash goes from strength to strength. He has more than half the former cricketers including big names like Greg Chappel and former chief selector Kiran More sing songs of its praise. What's the problem if a professional cricketer wants to make a decent living? It's happening to football, so why not at cricket, too? In order to assure the cricket boards, Shubhash has declared that he will also set up cricket academies around the country to promote budding cricketers. Even the board will also be able to use the facilities set up by ICL.
As far as we are concerned, I feel it couldn't have been any better for the game. Though only time will tell the tall tale of ICL, but it sure promises to bring lots of young stars back to the game and build up professionalism. After all, cricket is not only a game, it's a love affair here in the subcontinent, and where's the harm in adding a little spice in the game that blurs boundary and brings people together.