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Zee TV announces parallel cricket league
The Rediff Cricket Bureau | April 03, 2007 17:37 IST
Last Updated: April 03, 2007 19:57 IST
In what will be perceived as a direct threat to the existing cricket structure, Zee TV's founder-chairman Subhash Chandra today announced the creation of a parallel cricket league at the domestic level.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Chandra announced that the league will be floated with a corpus of Rs 100 crore, and will offer top prize money of $ 1 million.
The league will comprise six teams of 14 players each. Each team will contain four international players and two players who are playing or have played cricket for India. The other eight players will be drawn from budding cricketers across the country.
"We have expertise in talent-search in the entertainment field, we will use that same expertise to unearth cricketing talent in India," Chandra said.
He said each team will have a coach, physio, and even psychological trainer. The league will have a professional media manager, and an ombudsman to resolve issues that may be raised by the public, or even by the players.
Chandra did not yet go into the names of players who will participate in this league, but said discussions are on and more announcements are expected shortly.
In a statement later in the evening, the BCCI confirmed that Chandra has indeed sought permission to start a league. It said it will take an appropriate decision on the matter.
It is early days yet, but Zee appears to have struck the iron in, hard, at the psychological moment: the Indian fan is disgruntled with the national team in the wake of the World Cup fiasco; much of his anger is also targeted at the BCCI for mismanaging cricket and failing to unearth new talent; the unwieldly domestic structure has been blamed for killing, rather than nurturing, fresh talent.
In one shot, thus, the Zee initiative addresses all these grouses, and creates a climate of hope and expectation that contrasts with the cloud surrounding the official body.
Chandra denied that he is launching a parallel Board.
"We will set up 35 cricket academies in all the states and Union territories which would pick talented cricketers who would be kept on salaries with our organization. We would have waited for a couple of months to announce our project but because of the dismal performance of the Indian team in the World Cup in West Indies we are announcing it earlier," he said.
Initially there would be six teams that would play against each other to decide the winner; subsequently it would be increased to 16 teams in next three years.
"The prize-money for the tournament would be one million dollors. There would be no restriction on the players if they are selected by the Indian Board to play for the country. We would pick four international players to play for the Indian Cricket League and two players from the Indian squad and the rest eight would be budding cricketers," he added.
Chandra has already started talking to former and present cricketers to enroll support for his venture.
"Naturally the telecast rights of the matches between these teams would remain with Zee Sports," he clarified.
Will he start a parallel Board in case BCCI rejects his proposal?
"Why should I assume that they are going to reject my proposal," he said, refusing to divulge financial details or give names of those cricketers who have been in touch with him or are supporting his idea of cricket.
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