ICL was fall-out of World Cup fiasco: Pawar

Written by Agencies | Mumbai, September 29: | Updated: Sep 29 2007, 21:52pm hrs
Without mentioning the rebel Indian Cricket League or its promoters by name, BCCI President Sharad Pawar, in his annual report, has laid the blame squarely on India's World Cup debacle for the launch of ICL by Subhash Chandra's Essel Group.

The BCCI Chief has said in his report for the year 2006-07 that the country's cricket was put to the litmus test and the players were in a daze after the Caribbean fiasco in March as it brought forth harsh criticism from the fans.

This was thought about as the ideal time by a private television company to announce a rebel cricket league in the country, according to Pawar.

"The year under review was challenging in more than one way. Our team's dismal performance in ICC World Cup 2007 put Indian cricket to acid test as it brought severe criticism from millions of Indian fans and our players themselves were in a state of shock and disbelief."

"A private entertainment company (Zee) saw this as an opportune time to announce a rebel cricket league in India," Pawar stated in the report which, for the first time in the BCCI's history, was distributed to the media at the end of its AGM on Friday.

The rebel league, announced in April, has already roped in a number of former Test cricketers and two high-profile former captains West Indian Brian Lara and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq.

After things settled down following the BCCI's damage control exercise through the announcement of measures to put Indian cricket back on track, the BCCI countered the ICL recently by coming out with its own plans for the formation of the Indian Premier League and the Champions League.

Pawar has stated in detail the measures announced by the Board post World Cup for "the betterment of Indian cricket" like preparation of sporting wickets for domestic tournaments, revamping the system of selectors' appointment, revamping of the National Cricket Academy, formation of zonal academies and commencement of the domestic Twenty20 league.

The BCCI Chief has also mentioned that the senior team was now performing consistently and did well in overseas tours, indicated by the Test series victory over England after a gap of 21 years.

He has also hailed three senior players Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble for reaching personal milestones in international cricket and praised women cricketers Anjum Chopra (for getting the Arjuna Award) and Jhulan Goswami, who became the first woman cricketer from the country to bag the ICC Woman Cricketer of the Year Award.

Pawar has said the BCCI had successfully staged the ICC Champions Trophy last year and had started preparations for the 2011 World Cup, to be jointly hosted by the four sub-continent full members of the International Cricket Council.

BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah's report also touched upon the dismal World Cup show of the team, which "failed miserably and could not even reach the Super 8 stage."

"Their early exit shocked the followers of Indian cricket and there was widespread anger, demonstation and criticism against our players, administrators and the Board itself," Shah's report said.

After mentioning the climb back up the pecking order by the team throught its fine performance in England, Shah has said the ODI series, which India lost narrowly to the hosts, "has generated back the interest and following in Indian cricket."

No mention has been made to the triumph of the young team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni on September 24 in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa as it was obviously too late a champion performance to be included in the 66-page document.

Taking credit for improving women's cricket after taking it over in such a short period of time by also staging the Asia Cup and Quadrangular series.

Shah has also added that the board had done well financially, over the last two or three years, thanks to its marketing committee's efforts.

The BCCI also condoled the deaths of three Test stalwarts of yesteryears, former captain Polly Umrigar, Hanumant Singh and Dilip Sardesai along with ICC president Percy Sonn.

The shifting of the BCCI's headquarters to its own premises at the Wankhede Stadium during the period has also been mentioned in the report.