India's rebel league signs four Pakistan stars

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 9:40 [IST]
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Pakistan superstars Inzamam-ul Haq and Mohammad Yousuf were on Monday confirmed to take part in the breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL), a move that could end their international careers.

All-rounder Abdul Razzaq and left-handed opener Imran Farhat were the other Pakistanis who had signed up with the multi-million dollar league, ICL official Himanshu Modi told reporters here.

The four Pakistanis join retired West Indian captain Brian Lara as the marquee overseas cricketers in the ICL, which is bankrolled by media baron Subhash Chandra, the owner of India's largest listed media company Zee Telefilms.

Former South African internationals Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje have also signed up, Modi said, adding that the names of other international players will be disclosed once they had signed their contracts.

"We have delivered our promise to give you a star-studded line-up, and it is not over yet. Expect more big names to follow," ICL chairman Kapil Dev said.

Ex-Australian stars Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have been linked with the ICL, but both have dismissed claims by the organisers that they have already signed up.

The ICL paraded 44 Indian first-class cricketers at the media conference who had joined the rebel league, which initially comprises Twenty20 matches over two months for each of the next three years.

The inaugural event is scheduled to be held in October and November.

No member of the Indian team currently touring England has been linked with the ICL, which has not been recognised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The BCCI, which runs official cricket in the country and is a member of the International Cricket Council, has said any player joining the ICL will be barred from national selection.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has also announced a boycott of rebel players, saying they will be not be eligible for selection for official Test, one-day and Twenty20 cricket.

Inzamam, 37, who resigned as Pakistan's captain after the World Cup, was in contention for playing in the home Test series against South Africa in late September.

Yousuf, 32, is Pakistan's batting spearhead, while Razzaq and Farhat declined to sign PCB contracts for the new season. Razzaq announced his retirement from official cricket earlier on Monday.

Among the Indian first-class players who have joined the league are all-rounder Dinesh Mongia, who toured Bangladesh with the Indian team in May, and former internationals Deep Dasgupta and Jai Prakash Yadav.

ICL officials refused to divulge the salaries being paid to the cricketers, but one source said the amounts agreed upon were "more than enough to make the players happy."

Media reports said some domestic cricketers, who earned a maximum of 500,000 rupees (12,200 dollars) from the BCCI during a season, were reportedly signed up for nine million rupees (220,000 dollars) by the ICL for three years.

The BCCI, meanwhile, said on Monday it would increase salaries for domestic cricketers by 20 percent, but insisted it was only due to the higher revenues earned in the last financial year.

"That has been our policy over the years," said BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah. "If the board's revenues go up, the players also earn more."

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