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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Kiran More
ICL fighting against the odds: More
March 12, 2008
When Kiran More was appointed to the Indian Cricket League's executive board, it was seen as a coup for the rebel organization. Rahul Bhatia caught up with him for a few basic questions.
Look, it's a fact. We didn't have options. But in five months we've got three grounds. It's good enough, I think.
After the first edition of the tournament there was a lot of thinking within the Essel group [the tournament organizers] about how to make it better.How have you done this one differently?
Again, the addition of two teams plus the three new venues are something we came up with. We also wanted to have more academies.
In January, when you had that meeting to address the problems with the ICL, one of the suggestions you received was that you could rope in college and school grounds that had nothing to do with the BCCI. What are you doing about that?
In the long term we'll look into it. Right now there are too many grounds available. It's a matter of finding the right grounds in the right areas.
And how do you select these grounds?
If I look at the north, I can have an academy at Panchkula and use it for Jammu and Kashmir [Images], Services, Punjab, and Jalandhar as a main academy, with five other academies in the area. Same thing in the east and west as well. We need to have places like Panchkula. We might have one ground in Surat, or anywhere else.
Your first academy will be initiated in May?
Yes, but we're still looking at a couple of places with good facilities.
When the league began, Subhash Chandra said there would be this '3-D' approach: discovery, diligence, and display. Now discovery would mean actually finding talent and raising it from the ground. What has been done there?
We need to have academies. We need to have under-15 and under-20 cricketers come out of these academies. If we have, say, 20 academies where players play with each other, the top players could be picked for state teams. And in the future we want to have an ICL team that plays against international teams as well.
And a Pakistan team.
How are you going to do this? Has there been any progress towards this?
Oh definitely. We have about 84-90 players. So out of this we take the best players and we can give anyone a run for their money. There's no doubt about it.
And the hard part would be actually getting a match.
Definitely. It's like Bangladesh or Sri Lanka [Images] coming in. It's not going to be an overnight success. It will take some time. But I can already see some 15 players who are ready to play at the top level.
They just never got a chance to play. There are guys like Abbas, the Badanis � he played a bit � R Satish, Mortaza, Abhishek Jhunjuhnwala. I think they're all good quality players.
This is pretty long term. You've got three year contracts for everyone. So the contracts are being extended?
It's been only five months. Yes, we've given them two year contracts and a third one as well. Let's see how it goes. It's on a performance basis too, which we'll monitor.
A lot of what you're doing is political. Do you think the right BCCI candidate could open the door for you?
I hope so. In the end the truth will prevail. We're not trying to fool around. We're here to play cricket. Otherwise guys like Sachin Dholpure would never have been seen on television.
He was a good quality player. He didn't get a chance to play for Madhya Pradesh. Now he's getting a chance here, and he's proving himself. So that's what we're saying: We're here now, and it's their call.
We're not saying we'll get involved in Ranji Trophy or Test cricket, and we're not asking for MS Dhoni [Images] or Sachin Tendulkar [Images]. We haven't got any Indian superstar players. We never approached anyone. So our way is very clear. We're not clashing with any events. And not even clashing with county cricket.
We're fighting against the odds, so it's not that easy.
How've they made life difficult for you?
I think banning players was difficult. Especially for these players. I feel bad that these players could not get other playing opportunities. If you compare ICL and IPL, what's wrong with it? It's just that one is supported by the BCCI.
You had said in May last year that the ICL was an opportunity, and that the BCCI should not be threatened by it. And this year Kapil Dev [Images] said that the ICL would break the BCCI's monopoly. Now that's a real change in tone. So the thinking has changed?
The only thing we can do is show people that we can organize tournaments with class. The fact is that there are many people who want to come and play for ICL. We've got Australians, Pakistanis, and more and more people want to join us. The next tournament will give you a lot of surprises.
Rahul Bhatia, a former correspondent with Cricinfo, is currently on sabbatical to work on a book on his favorite subject -- cricket. Rahul will file regular reports/features/interviews for Rediff during the ICL tournament. More of him here. (http://grch.wordpress.com/)