Jump to content

Indian Cricket League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indian Cricket League
No. of teams10 city teams, 4 international teams
CountryIndia India
Pakistan Pakistan
Bangladesh Bangladesh
World XI
Lahore Badshahs (2008/09)

The Indian Cricket League (ICL) was a short-lived cricket league that ran from 2007 to 2009. It was sponsored by Zee Entertainment Enterprises, a media company. The ICL had two seasons, featuring four international teams and nine domestic teams from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The matches were played in the Twenty20 format, which was new and exciting at the time. A 50-over tournament was also held in early 2008.[1]

The ICL faced significant opposition from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC). The BCCI did not approve of the ICL and launched its own rival league, the Indian Premier League (IPL), in 2008. The IPL was more popular and successful than the ICL, attracting more players, sponsors and fans.

The BCCI also banned the players who joined the ICL from playing for their national teams or in any other official tournaments. This was a big blow for the ICL, as many of its players were former or current stars of international cricket. Some of them tried to return to the BCCI fold, but they had to face legal and financial hurdles. Combined with pressure from the more popular IPL, these issues caused the ICL to collapse in 2009, ending its brief and controversial existence.


'Rebel' cricket leagues and fixtures played without backing from international boards and the International Cricket Council had been attempted before. Most notably, World Series Cricket, introduced in 1977 by broadcasting tycoon Kerry Packer, had proved the viability of cricket as a commercial product despite the league's short lifespan. In the 1980s, many international cricketers toured South Africa whilst the country was under a sporting boycott due to apartheid, often sponsored by private companies. Both these attempts resulted in pushback from international cricket authorities. World Series Cricket were the subject of litigation, and were not perimitted to use recognised cricket stadiums or language like 'Test Match', so had to instead use stadiums intended for other sports and invent new terminology such as 'Supertest'. In the case of the latter, many cricketers received bans from their respective national teams for participating in these tours. As a result, the tours eventually came to an end, a few years before apartheid ended in South Africa and the sporting boycott was lifted.[2]

In the early 2000s, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) were looking for a way to market the game to a younger audience. Their solution was a new twenty-over competition to be played between counties. The resulting Twenty20 Cup, later renamed the T20 Blast, was a success and drew large crowds during its first season in 2003. Similar competitions sprung up in Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies. Eventually, the ICC sanctioned the first official Men's T20 World Cup in 2007.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India sent a young side to participate in the World Cup, due to their skepticism over the format's viability. Despite their inexperience, the Indian side won the tournament. Two months later, the inaugural season of the Indian Cricket League began without backing from the BCCI, who deemed the participants 'rebels' and excluded them from the Indian side.[3]

League structure[edit]

Each team was coached by a former international cricketer and composed of four international, two Indian and eight budding domestic players. Essel Group also planned to set up cricket academies all over the country. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was assured that it was free to draw from ICL's talent pool. The league became active in November 2007 with matches in the Twenty20 format.

Former international cricketers including Tony Greig, Dean Jones and Kiran More were hired as board members of the Indian Cricket League.[4] The board positions were to be paid positions.[5]

City Teams[edit]

ICL World teams[edit]

The ICL World teams participated in an additional competition, the ICL World Series. They did not play against the city teams.

ICL World XI

ICL India

ICL Pakistan

ICL Bangladesh


First season[edit]

Results for 2007-08 ICL Season
Competition Champion
ICL 20-20 Indian Championship IndiaChennai Superstars[6]
ICL 50s IndiaChennai Superstars[7]
ICL 20s Grand Championship India Hyderabad Heroes[8]
ICL 20s World Series India ICL India XI [9]

Second season[edit]

Results for 2008-09 ICL Season
Competition Champion
ICL 20-20 Indian Championship Pakistan Lahore Badshahs
ICL 20s World Series Cancelled

Support for the league[edit]

The ICL received some support from unexpected quarters. There was a fear that lack of access to infrastructure, like the premier cricket stadiums, would limit the success of the operation of the league, but support from various government bodies boosted the league. Camps were held at Mayajaal in Chennai, a private resort with adequate cricket facilities.[10] The then head of Indian Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav showed his backing by opening all the cricket stadiums controlled by the Indian Railways to the league. Describing the ICL as a "good initiative", Prasad issued a statement saying that the BCCI and ICL should each come up with a cricket team and play against each other to show who's the best. The state government of West Bengal also agreed to rent its cricket grounds, notably Eden Gardens, to the league.[11] In Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation provided its Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium for matches.


BCCI Response[edit]

The BCCI refused to recognise the ICL as a cricket league, and criticised Kiran More and Kapil Dev for joining the ICL.[12] Kapil Dev's association with ICL was seen by the establishment as a conflict of interest as he was also the chairman of National Cricket Academy, a BCCI owned cricket facility.[13] On 21 August 2007 Kapil Dev was sacked from his NCA post.[14] Subhash Chandra had earlier stated that the ICL will go ahead regardless of the BCCI's stance. The International Cricket Council gave a statement through its chief executive, Malcolm Speed, that the ICC would not recognize the ICL unless the BCCI chooses to recognise it. The ICC looks at the ICL as an issue to be sorted out by the BCCI. On 25 July 2012 Kapil Dev informed BCCI that he had resigned from the ICL.[15]

Faced with the threat of young players joining the ICL, the BCCI jacked up prize money for winners, runners-up and losing semi-finalists across all tournaments. An average domestic cricketer can hope to make around ₹35,000 per match day from the season of 2007–08: more than double the ₹16,000 they got in 2005–06. The BCCI has also planned to do away with honorary selectors, who will be paid professionals from September 2008 onwards.[16]

The BCCI started its own international Twenty20 league. The official league, which launched in April 2008, is called the Indian Premier League. The league model is based on the franchise model of the National Football League and Major League Baseball in the US.[17]

ICL takes BCCI to court[edit]

In August 2007, the ICL filed a petition against the BCCI in the Delhi High Court accusing the BCCI of threatening and intimidating them and other state organisations, and asked the court to stop BCCI from interfering with its attempts to sign up players for its tournaments.[18] It also petitioned that the BCCI stop trying to "out-hire" cricket stadiums in India that are owned by the state governments, in anti-competitive attempts to stop the ICL from using them to play matches.

On 27 August 2007, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of the ICL. In its ruling, the Delhi High Court said that players should not suffer in the battle between corporate giants. The court has issued notices to all corporate sponsors, the state cricket associations & the BCCI against terminating valid contracts of players joining the ICL.[19]

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) of India had asked its Director-General of Investigation to do an initial investigation into the BCCI's action against players who had joined the ICL. The investigation was based on media reports of the BCCI giving an open statement that it would ban players who join ICL. It was also reported in the media that all state associations, under direction from the BCCI, have cancelled contracts with players.[20]

Pressure on players from other national organisations[edit]

In considering rejoining the ICL former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon was said to have put his career in jeopardy because any player that signs up with the ICL, which does not have official status from the International Cricket Council, risks losing their registration.[21]

The addition of a new team from Dhaka in Bangladesh, consisting largely of Bangladesh internationals caused more controversy as the cricket board of that country banned the players for 10 years for joining the 'rebel' ICL.[22] Faced with the departure of so many players the board appealed to other Bangladeshi players to reject the new ICL team, stay loyal to the board and embrace the opportunity to play for their country.[23]

Downfall of the ICL[edit]

In April 2009, the BCCI offered an 'amnesty' to all Indian players associated with the ICL,[24] a move that was quickly replicated by other boards like Bangladesh [25] and South Africa.[26] This led to a mass exodus of players from the ICL,[27] and the league also faced a cash-crunch due to the global financial crisis affecting the league's owners.[28] Although the ICL was publicly confident of surviving the exodus and holding a new season of the tournament in October 2009,[29] this did not occur.

Transparency issues[edit]

Independent analysts have had difficulty gauging the financial viability of the ICL due to the lack of transparency of the league's operations. Terms of contracts are hidden and advertising revenue from match telecasts – considered to be a major contributor to revenues – have never been disclosed. Because they are unsanctioned by the ICC, the teams do not have access to the best facilities across the whole country or access to the best players, limiting their ability to generate high gate revenues. This lack of transparency leads to questions regarding the overall viability of the ICL's business model.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "ICL 50s". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  2. ^ "Rebel tours to South Africa may get ICC recognition". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Remembering Indian Cricket League, the 'rebel' that led to IPL would have turned 10 today". Firstpost. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  4. ^ ESPNcricinfo staff (14 May 2007). "Zee Sports denies signing of stars". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  5. ^ Khanna, Roma (14 May 2007). "BCCI's own now have a new job". CricketNext. Archived from the original on 16 June 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  6. ^ "ICL 20-20 Indian Championship". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  7. ^ "ICL 50s". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  8. ^ "ICL 20s Grand Championship". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  9. ^ "ICL 20s World Series". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  10. ^ Vasu, Anand (22 August 2007). "ICL to hold camp at Mayajaal in Chennai". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  11. ^ Press Trust of India (23 August 2007). "State minister allows ICL use of Eden Gardens". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  12. ^ Press Trust of India (13 June 2007). "BCCI shoots down ICL". Rediff.com. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  13. ^ Shanbhag, Sudhakar (13 June 2007). "BCCI Not To Recognise Zee-Promoted Indian Cricket League". Worldcuplatest.com. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  14. ^ Press Trust of India (21 August 2007). "Kapil sacked as NCA Chairman". Rediff.com. Retrieved 21 August 2007.
  15. ^ "Kapil Dev resigns from ICL, returns to BCCI". Wisden India. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  16. ^ Press Trust of India (21 June 2007). "BCCI hikes domestic match fees". Rediff.com. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  17. ^ Jamie Alter (13 September 2007). "International Twenty20 league launched". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
  18. ^ "ICL moves court against BCCI". DAWN.COM. 25 August 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  19. ^ "Delhi HC orders companies to let players join ICL". Reuters. 27 August 2007.
  20. ^ "Cricket row under MRTPC scanner".
  21. ^ Hoult, Nick (1 October 2008). "Paul Nixon may put county career in jeopardy by rejoining 'rebel' Indian Cricket League". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  22. ^ "Bangladesh vow to ban ICL rebels". BBC News. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  23. ^ Dhaka tries to stop more cricketers from joining ICL. Sify.com (16 September 2008). Retrieved on 2013-12-23.
  24. ^ "BCCI offers amnesty for ICL players". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  25. ^ "Bangladesh board also offers amnesty to ICL players". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  26. ^ "South Africa offers amnesty to ICL players". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  27. ^ "Gillespie saddened by exodus from ICL". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  28. ^ "'The battle is not over' - Greig". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  29. ^ "ICL optimistic despite exodus threat". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 May 2024.

External links[edit]