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Indian Cricket League ICL – History, Founder, Teams, Closure, Clash With IPL

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Indian Cricket League ICL – Cricket for few is a passion, and for some, it is a religion. In India, cricket has more importance than any other game. It has influenced many people from all societies. However, the people who have had the most influence on cricket approached it solely from a commercial standpoint. Sports hold a special place in the hearts of businesspeople. After all, sports is a very lucrative industry. But the spirit of competition that they’re used to in the corporate sector may be what pulls them to sports.

There are different formats of cricket played in India, and globally, one such is the Indian Cricket League. Indian Cricket League also known as ICL is yet another short cricket format game. However, the league didn’t go for long and had to discontinue.

All You Need to Know About Indian Cricket League (ICL)

History of Indian Cricket League (ICL)

History of Indian Cricket League (ICL)
History of Indian Cricket League (ICL)

A private league funded entirely by the Zee Entertainment Enterprise, The Indian Cricket League (ICL) ran from 2007 to 2009. During its two seasons, competitions were held between four international teams (World XI, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) and nine domestic teams centered in key Indian cities and Lahore and Dhaka Warriors in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Twenty20 format was used for the matches.

There were different domestic 50-over competitions proposed but never materialized. The ICL was founded before the Indian Premier League; however, it was dissolved in 2009. The primary reason was the backtracking by BCCI as it was clashing with the ongoing IPL.

Bold Steps by Zee Telefilms

Indian Cricket League Zee Telefilms
Indian Cricket League Zee Telefilms

One of the reasons ICL was started was because there was no short-format competition during that period in India. The country was a global champion in a format in which it had no local competition at any level. The opportunity had arrived, and India’s largest television network, Zee Telefilms, took the step further and founded the Indian Cricket League, the country’s first domestic T20 tournament (ICL).

The BCCI has previously rebuffed Zee Telefilms’ attempts to gain rights to broadcast India’s international matches. Subhash Chandra, the owner of Zee Telefilms, decided to take matters into his own hands and began recruiting various domestic and foreign players, promising them significant sums of money in exchange for playing in his league.

The league and the players who joined up for it were immediately labeled as rebels by the BCCI. Chandra was unfazed by these obstacles, and the first season of ICL premiered in November 2007. Six local teams with a mix of Indian and international players competed in the Indian championship. ICL also featured a World Series featuring teams from India, Pakistan, and the Rest of the World, as an homage to Kerry Packer.

The Clash between the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Indian Cricket League (ICL)

IPL VS ICL
IPL VS ICL

Despite tight games and the inclusion of foreign players, the ICL failed to grab the attention of Indian fans, added to the absence of big-ticket Indian legends, and partly due to the ICL’s failure to carry the tournament to multiple sites to establish regional rivalries.

Many cricket fans were enthralled by the exhibit’s talent, with previously lesser-known players like Ganapathi Vignesh and Ambati Rayudu flourishing for their respective teams and demonstrating their capability. Azhar Mahmood and Ian Harvey, both international stars, presented their skills and experience.

The Desire for Developing Cricket League & Sports Content

Developing Cricket League in India
Developing Cricket League in India

The Essel Company (Part of Zee Telefilms) had stated a strong desire to assist India in developing cricket league and providing profitable sports programming for Zee Telefilms, which had previously lost its rights to broadcast all BCCI-sanctioned cricket events in India until 2011.

Essel Group formed Zee Sports in 2006 to gain some of the BCCI television rights. The company provided business rights to the West Indies, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in international cricket. In November 2006, Zee purchased a 50% stake in TEN Sports for Rs. 2.57 billion.

During this period, at the Bombay High Court, Chandra visited for daily hearings fighting the case against BCCI and ESPN to acquire the five-year rights. Despite the highest bidding, BCCI rejected the request for rights.

Chandra has been suffering from denial since 2000; this was when ICC World Cup rights were awarded $550 million to NewsCorp’s Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), despite Zee bidding at $650 million, stating that Zee lacks sports marketing skills.

The denial and political clash continued for a long. Chandra and his company went ahead with the league, but it eventually failed post two years of the event. The scrapping of the ICL also showcases how important the quality of cricket is for the BCCI.

Indian Cricket League Support

Lalu Prasad Yadav Support ICL
Lalu Prasad Yadav Supported ICL

In its two years of extravaganza short format cricket, the Indian Cricket League did receive support. There was concern that the league’s functioning wouldn’t succeed due to the lack of infrastructure, such as top cricket venues. This was when the league received assistance from different government entities. Mayajaal, a private resort near Chennai with appropriate cricket facilities, hosted the camps.

Lalu Prasad Yadav, the then railway minister, demonstrated his support by allowing the league to use all of the Indian Railways’ cricket stadiums. Prasad, who called the ICL a “wonderful concept,” said the BCCI and the ICL should each form a cricket team and compete against one another.

Indian Cricket League (ICL) Structure

ICL Structure
ICL Structure

Each squad was led by veteran international cricketers and had four overseas players, two Indian players, and eight young domestic players. In addition, the Essel Group intended to open cricket academic across the country. The BCCI was informed that it might use the ICL’s talent pool without restriction. The league began operations in November 2007 with Twenty20 matches.

Total Teams

  • Chandigarh Lions
  • Hyderabad Heroes
  • Delhi Giants
  • Ahemdabad Rockets
  • Lahore Badshahs
  • Dhaka Warriors
  • Mumbai Champs
  • Chennai Superstars
  • Royal Bengal Tigers

A paid mentor, media manager, psychologist, and physiotherapist were assigned to each squad. The winning club team received a $1 million award.

Pressure on Players against ICL

Pressure on Players against ICL by BCCI
Pressure on Players against ICL by BCCI

The arrival Dhaka team mostly made up of Bangladesh internationals, sparked controversy since the Bangladesh cricket authority banned the players for ten years for participating in the ICL.

Many international players faced pressure from their respective cricket boards against joining ICL, which didn’t carry official status. With so many players leaving, the board urged other Bangladeshi players not to join the ICL, remain loyal to the board, and seize the opportunity to play for their nation.

The Closure of ICL

The Closure of Indian Cricket League
The Closure of Indian Cricket League

Since the beginning, ICL has found itself in the bowl of controversy. Since BCCI banned ICL, the future was uncertain. Following the success of the ICL, the BCCI decided to launch their league, dubbed “IPL.” As a result, the BCCI did not waste any time putting an end to the league by banning players and stadiums affiliated with it.

The Indian Cricket League announced intentions for growth shortly after the first competition, including a fifty-over tournament in February 2008 and the increase of the ICL Indian Championship to eight teams for the second tournament, which will be placed in September and October 2008. Presently, the ICL doesn’t exist, and all players have returned to their national team.

ICL 20-20 Season One

The first season of ICL began with six teams on November 30. The Chennai Superstars won the inaugural ICL title by defeating the Chandigarh Lions in the final by 12 runs. Shabbir Ahmed, a Superstars bowler, was named Man of the Match after taking four wickets, including a hat-trick. In contrast, Ian Harvey, a Superstars batsman, was named Player of the Tournament after hitting 266 runs in seven matches and collecting nine wickets.

ICL 20s Grand Championship

The challenge tournament, ICL 20s Grand Championship 2007/08 held during the inaugural season of the ICL to introduce the Lahore Badshahs, an all-Pakistan squad, and allow them to compete against each other ICL teams. The competition kicked off on March 9th, 2008, and concluded on April 6th, 2008. There were eight teams, and Hyderabad Heroes won this tournament against Lahore Badshahs.

ICL 20s World Series 2007/08

It was the last event of ICL’s first season, and it included ‘international’ teams. The competition kicked off on April 9th, 2008, and concluded on April 15th, 2008. ICL India, ICL Pakistan, and ICL World were the three teams in the competition. Each team competes against the other twice.

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