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Posts Tagged ‘icl’

This ICL versus IPL business, which should by now have surely been laid to rest, rumbles on. Should the Northamptonshire Steelbacks beat Sussex in their Twenty20 Cup semi-final on Saturday, they would normally have been expected to fill one of England’s spots in the Twenty20 Champions League (or the Champions League T20, or the Champions Twenty20 League, or whatever), but the inclusion in their squad of Nicky Boje, Andrew Hall and Johan van der Wath means that Lalit Modi won’t let them play.

Boje, Hall and van der Wath are all ‘tainted’ by their association with the ICL, which is viewed by the BCCI as ‘unauthorised cricket’. “Champions League rules are very clear that no team with players connected to any unauthorised cricket can be a part of it,” said Modi, possibly whilst stroking a cat and plotting world domination.

‘Unauthorised cricket’ makes it sound a bit like the trio had been skipping school to hone their forward defensives, or carelessly practising their in-swingers in an area containing a ‘No Ball Games‘ sign.

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The boycott by the West Indies Players’ Association has meant that the West Indies’ side for the First Test against Bangladesh has a distinctly unfamiliar look to it. Floyd Reifer (who has played four Tests, the last of them more than a decade ago) comes in as captain of a side that features such relative unknowns as Kraigg Brathwaite, Chadwick Walton and “Combined Colleges and Campuses’ Ryan Austin“.

Whether or not this means Bangladesh win finally win a Test against a team that isn’t Zimbabwe remains to be seen. The Windies do have the experience of Tino Best (returned from ICL exile) and Darren Sammy in the side, and the rain seems to be holding things up at the moment.

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After all that Pakistani cricket fans have been through recently, there is no set of supporters that deserves something to celebrate as much as they do. With that in mind, congratulations to the side which has just won the World Twenty20 finalShahid Afridi shone again with the bat after Abdul Razzaq had taken 3-20 (continuing the strong impact that he’s had since returning from the ICL) as Sri Lanka fought their way back from 70-6 to set Pakistan 139 to win.

Uncharacteristically, the eventual victors didn’t even put their fans through any last-minute anguish with a collapse, or stumble across the line. At times, there was even a worrying outbreak of sensible batting from Afridi, but luckily he shook that off with a couple of massive sixes to get the party started.

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Shane Bond looks set to return to Test cricket, and he won’t even need to wear a comedy disguise. Having cut all ties with the ICL, the Kiwi pace bowler has made himself available for selection by New Zealand.

The news has been welcomed by captain Daniel Vettori, given the injury problems that frustrated his side during their World Twenty20 campaign. Bond, however, says that he doesn’t expect to be recalled for the Black Caps’ upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

With the ICL seemingly now a dead end, a number of ‘rebel’ players are making the transition back to mainstream cricket, with Bond arguably the player who was most missed by his international side during his exile.

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The Indian Cricket League, currently in limbo following the cancellation of its World Series in the wake of last year’s attacks in Mumbai, and apparently running seriously short of cash, has offered its Kiwi players the option of being released from their contracts.

Some of the New Zealanders involved, notably Shane Bond and Darryl Tuffey, have sacrified their international careers by getting involved with the ‘rebel’ ICL, and if they were to cut their ties with the competition, it could raise the possibility of them playing again for the Black Caps. Whilst Bond has talked down this possibility in the past, Tuffey is reportedly keen to represent his country once again.

Perhaps of greater interest for those outside of New Zealand are the implications of this news on the expected future of the ICL itself. With subcontinental cricket involving non-subcontinental players seemingly becoming an ever rarer sight for ‘security reasons’, and the global economy looking shakier than it has been in decades, can the world support two Indian Twenty20 leagues?

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Since being ravaged by the ICL, Bangladesh have actually been improving (with one or two regressions to the mean), mainly thanks to Shakib Al Hasan. The all-rounder’s run of recent good performances continued in today’s Tri-Series match against Sri Lanka, as he to propel the Tigers into Friday’s final, also against the Sri Lankans.

If Bangladesh are to become a serious One-Day side, then they will need Shakib to put in performances like this on a regular basis. The erstwhile kittens will also be hoping that bowling performances like today’s (youtube here) come along with more regularity). If the top ordr could get their act together, they might give a lot of the more established sides a few more scares.

As for Sri Lanka, the task of winning the series, previously considered by most observers as relatively simple, now seems a great deal more troublesome.

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In this season of goodwill to all, the ICC seem to have extended an olive branch to the rebel Indian Cricket League by holding talks with Subhash Chandra, the ICL’s owner.

Meetings like this have been held before, of course, but notable this time was the presence of former BCCI president and current ICC vice-president Sharad Pawar. This may be an indication of a softening in stance from the previously hard-line BCCI.
I think most cricket fans would like to see this issue resolved now, and I hope that meetings such as this will help bring about an end to the international exile and leper-like status imposed on the likes of Mohammad Yousuf and Shane Bond.

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Much like the way Pakistan’s cricket fans now have an ‘unnofficial’ side to follow which plays more often than the ‘official’ side (two if you count both the Lahore Badshahs and the ICL Pakistan XI), there are now two Bangladesh teams to follow.

One, that backed by the official governing body, will play in the Second Test against South Africa tomorrow, hoping to salvage some pride. The prospect of a win in that contest seems exceedingly unlikely, given (as Will Luke puts it) the fact that “their form guide, a string of ‘Ls’, reads like a Welsh railway station“.

Meanwhile, the unofficial, ICL side had some success today, beating their Indian equivalents with 3 balls to spare mainly thanks to the efforts of Shahriar Nafees. If the ‘real’ Bangladesh keep losing, then more and more casual fans may be drawn to the glamour and relative success of the ‘fake’ ICL side. That would, in my view, be a shame, but I can’t blame those fans if they feel they’d rather watch a half-decent Twenty20 side than see the Test side get hammered repeatedly.

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Whilst the official Bangladesh side was getting in a bit of practice on the Bloemfontein pitch where they have just suffered an innings defeat, the unofficial ICL version took on a World XI in the ICL World Series.

Admittedly, this was the sort of World XI that includes Paul Nixon and Chris Harris, rather than the sort that includes Lara, Tendulkar and Muralitharan, but it’s still worth a mention. Much as the Lahore Badshahs captured the imagination of Pakistani cricket fans when the PCB side wasn’t playing much, a competitive Bangladeshi ICL side could prove a serious rival to the official side for the affections of the average cricket fan in Dhaka.

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It seems that the two Pakistans may be on a collision course – Inzamam ul Haq, of the Lahore Badshahs, has challenged his former teammates to a match. Whilst this sort of thing is guaranteed to make headlines and get people excited, I can’t really see the PCB agreeing to such a match, given their hostility to the ICL.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting idea, and there’s certainly an appetite for a confrontation between the two sides amongst Pakistani fans. If nothing else, the TV companies will be salivating.

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As South Africa begin their Test series with Bangladesh, they could be forgiven for having more than half an eye on December’s trip to Australia, where they will feel the world’s best side (still) are ripe for the taking. Before all that, though, the Saffers need to avoid any mishaps against a Bangladeshi side that, although much weakened by the ICL exodus, still gave New Zealand a scare or two.

If South Africa need any reminder of how troublesome Bangladesh can be, they need only think back to February, when the Tigers actually managed a first innings lead thanks to Shahadat Hossain‘s 6-27. Nevertheless, this series is all about preparation for the showdown Down Under.

For the Tigers/Kittens, respectability is probably the main aim. Shakib Al Hasan will have a chance to prove that his performances against the Black Caps weren’t just a flash in the pan, and the top order badly needs some runs.

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Whilst Pakistan’s official team have been in action against the West Indies, the unofficial Pakistan side that is the Lahore Badshahs have been busy winning the ICL.

Whilst the competition remains unsactioned, the presence of players such as Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq means that for many Pakistani cricket fans, the decisive game in the ICL Final series will have been more compelling than the official side’s dead rubber against the Windies over in Abu Dhabi.

Whether or not such things will ever be admitted by those in charge of the game is uncertain, but whilst there is an audience for it out there, the ICL shows no sign of disappearing, much to the chagrin of a number of national boards.

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