हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Lalu bats for ICL, offers Railway grounds

Published: Thursday, August 9, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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 Railway Minister and Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) President Lalu Prasad today stepped on the muddled pitch, deciding to bat for the fledgling ICL against the powerful and cash-rich BCCI by offering Railway stadia to hold the rebel body's Twenty20 tournament.

New Delhi: Railway Minister and Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) President Lalu Prasad today stepped on the muddled pitch, deciding to bat for the fledgling ICL against the powerful and cash-rich BCCI by offering Railway stadia to hold the rebel body's Twenty20 tournament.

The maverick minister's politically loaded offer to Indian Cricket League (ICL) assumes high significance as it came barely a day after the BCCI issued a diktat, warning that those aligning with the breakaway league would be deprived of Board's benefits.

By making this stunning offer, the BCA chief, whose ambition to occupy the top slot in the BCCI is well known, has created a flutter in the official establishment.

''We will definitely allow ICL to host their tourney in our stadiums and in turn will charge token amount for it'', Mr Prasad told reporters here.

The offer from the Railway Minister could not have come at a better time for the rebel league, which is desperately looking for grounds to stage the much-hyped million-dollar competition.

The ICL, headed by India's greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev, claims to have roped in players like Brian Lara, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Describing the formation of the ICL as ''good for the game'', he said, ''The proposed tournament would provide an opportunity to those talented players who have not so far got a look-in to display their wares.'' The BCA chief was also of the view that the tournament, having so many international superstars, would generate competition and provide exposure to local players.

''I think the ICL is a good initiative,'' said Mr Prasad, unmindful of the strong BCCI stand against those planning to join it.

Only yesterday, the BCCI had issued a stern and unconcealed warning that ''those who joined or wishes to join the ICL will be deprived of all the benefits from the Board and will be out of their scheme of things''.

The BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah had also threatened life bans on players who intends to join the private league.

''Either you are with us or against us,'' was the Board's terse message to those nurturing the idea of joining the League.

Mr Prasad, however, deftly parried a question whether his offer would create fissures between BCCI and ICL, merely stating that the competition was good for the players and for the game as a whole.

Asked whether his proposal would intensify the conflict in the official set up, Mr Prasad offered a straight bat, saying, ''Competiion is always good.'' Earlier, senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh had dashed off a missive to the BCCI, seeking a level playing field for the ICL.

UNI

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