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BCCI should give ICL players a second chance

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Harsha Bhogle

So there will be no ICL this March and while it might be too early to write the obituary of a patient it seems the doctors have been summoned. Hopefully there will be no celebration in the other camp for another door has just been shut on several fine young men who followed their instinct, in the case of some searched for an outlet for their frustration, and seem to have gone wrong. It is a sad day and one that must be seen in the right perspective.

These young men who signed up for the ICL were guilty of no more than a misjudgement. All of us make them, some of us still are. But these people have been handed a life sentence and I believe the time has now come to review that. For heaven’s sake, politicians jump sides and get rewarded whereupon they immediately jump ship again in search of more rewards. Some of these young men bore scars of apathy and frustration, sentiments that we have all experienced and felt terrible about. They were not mutineers or renegades, turncoats or mercenaries; they didn’t rob a bank, didn’t let their country down or tour lands that encourage apartheid. They wanted to play cricket, they were doing so in their country and it now turns out they may have made the wrong decision. At some point every one of us is guilty of that. When that realisation comes we search for redemption, for an opportunity to get back; indeed we search for people who show us that path.

This is the time for the IPL and BCCI to show how large their heart is; to throw a lifeline and say “come on, young men, come back and play cricket”. If the ICL decides that it is getting unviable to continue, will these cricketers never play cricket again? Wouldn’t that be inhuman? Other players in the past have romanced with apartheid regimes, no less, and returned. Geoffrey Boycott was one of them and we opened our doors and our hearts to him. Derek Underwood is now president of the MCC, the establishment, and was a prominent invitee to the Champions League launch. Bob Woolmer coached some of the best teams and had a responsible job in the ICC for a while. Chris Broad is a match referee. John Dyson coaches the West Indies and Trevor Hohns was chairman of selectors in Australia for a very long time. Kepler Wessels played for both the rebel Aussies and the South Africans on those tours and was coach of the Chennai Super Kings in their first year.

I can understand the antagonism in the first year of the IPL. Much has happened since then. The IPL has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of cricket, Lalit Modi called it recession proof and so far he has been right. On the other hand the ICL is struggling and the current economic scenario will hit it hard. Should it have to shut shop the owners will take the loss and move on, maybe start a power plant instead, but they will leave behind human debris; living human debris. The establishment has to take care of them in the larger interest of cricket in India. Children take their own decisions but parents can never shut their door on them forever. This is the time for the victor to be magnanimous, to offer a hand of support, to allow them to feel the excitement and earn a living.

It will cost the BCCI and the IPL nothing and will earn it tremendous goodwill. The point has been made, the battle is virtually won. And it is very unlikely that another such venture will be launched very soon. In any case the hazards are far too obvious now. This is a great opportunity to make a one-time offer; not to encourage breaking of contracts or to treat them like a scrap of paper to be autographed on, but to tell them that the window will be open but once. Maybe there can be another formula, maybe it can be available to those who signed up at the beginning; there is always a formula when the mind is willing as we will see when political alignments soon start happening!

A Vignesh, a Rayudu, a Binny must be allowed to have ambition; who knows, they might turn out to be great servants of Indian cricket. But even that is irrelevant; the opportunity for atonement, for a second chance is paramount. It is the sign of a caring society.

(Commentator Harsha Bhogle is an adviser with the Mumbai Indians)

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hai by hariharan on 2009-03-04
this letter
Pawar is proxy president by Gagan on 2009-02-16
that commenter has to note that Pawar is no longer the BCCI president and grow up.......Well..Pawar is like Sonia Gandhi..He is the one who runs the show n that Manohar guy just works for him..If you don't know that mate,your knowledge is pretty bad..We all know about Modi's past and deeds.Now that an FIR has been lodged against him,let these so called cricket gurus come in open n write about it..I don't think ICL people committed any crime.IPL was born coz of ICL..If there had been no ICL,we wouldn't have seen IPL..n mate,next time please done ever say that Pawar is not the president..I don't think Pawar himself will like that
tripe! by Venkat on 2009-02-20
guilty? misjudgement? redemption? what nonsense? the BCCI is only supposed to *administer* cricket, NOT monopolize it.they take the ICL idea, prostitute it, change ONE letter in the abbreviated name and start strutting around like they own the world. and instead of lampooning them unoriginal excuses for administrators, you, Harsha, are sitting on their side of the fence?or are you afraid that you'll be banned from commentary if you speak for the ICL?
BCCI is the guilty not the ICL by Abhinav on 2009-03-02
Just ask the BCCI to lift the unethical ban on the players from playing domestic cricket. None of the ICL players will not ask for a second chance. Guilty are not the players but BCCI. Ask Modi to face the competition fair and square and then see the difference. And yes wait for the IPL broadcast this year to judge its success or failure.
Hard Stance .. Need of the hour by Raghu on 2009-02-13
Ohh What an article Harsha!! Remember I am not in favour of BCCI as I write this article. People like Stuart Binny and Imran Nazir did not play well enough when they were given either State or Country Caps. How come suddenly everything changed? I would say money made them to perform. Given this does it not call for some work ethics on the part of the players when they have to represent their country or state? People here made mistakes under almost certainity that BCCI would not ban ICL. I understand its bad that other countries followed BCCI. Other than Shane Bond show me one player who will make a difference to the country if he plays today? At 25 Binny has done nothing in state cricket. talking about human debris and recession-all the ICL owners are big shots, let them provide the players jobs as railways does or banks have done in the past. Rebel tour to SAwas a mistake of one man BJ Vorster which was getting corrected by showing unity(sure money was there).ICL cantbe compared.
What about the Player who stuck with BCCI? by Gopi on 2009-02-13
Thats a fine sentiment you have expressed Harsha! But what about a fringe player who refused the ICL's offers and stuck with the BCCI and will now be out of the team once the ICL player (who made his money there) with better credential comes back?
BCCI should give ICL players a second chance by S Kiran on 2009-02-13
Mr. Bhogle, you have demonized ICL and asking BCCI to pardon the pllayers who played in ICL. This is outrageous. They have not committed any crime. Rather BCCI is acting like a criminal.
Newtons third law by shailesh on 2009-02-13
Jaise karm karega vaisa phal dega Bhagwan, ye hai Geeta ka gyan!
Boring..... by Assad on 2009-02-13
What a terrible article...Harsha your articles are as shallow and as uninspiring as your commentary....
re by nadeem on 2009-02-14
its a well written article only the tone is slightly misappropriate,i feel,especially i dont agree with your use of word 'atonement' in the last paragraph as you yourself mentioned that they have not committed any crime.BCCI need not to show any magnanimityinstead they shoudl abide by the laws of the land and do not ban people from free trade of their skills, which is perfectly legal.
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