Kapil Dev must have been a satisfied man when the breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL) successfully got underway on November 30 in Panchkula near Chandigarh.
Amidst much fanfare and energetic cheerleaders, the Chandigarh Lions, captained by Chris Cairns, defeated the Marvin Atapattu-led Delhi Jets by 9 runs. As Chairman of ICL, it was a personal victory for Dev after some very trying months.
He fought a protracted battle of wits with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which banned the nascent ICL to preserve its national hegemony and later also sacked Dev as Chairman of the National Cricket Academy for his association with ICL. When BCCI first announced some months ago that young cricketers playing in ICL could never hope to play for the Indian cricket team, it only strengthened Dev’s resolve.
As he keeps repeating at every press conference, ICL is really all about giving promising youngsters a chance to play. To be fair to him, this is something he has always believed in, ever since he accepted his new role under Subhash Chandra, Chairman of Zee Entertainment.
A legend of Indian cricket, Dev, who was voted by Wisden as Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002, has come a long way from the lanky teenager who first burst into international cricket in 1979.
In an era when Indian bowling was ruled by the famous spin quartet, Dev gave fast bowling legitimacy and went on to establish himself as one of the greatest all-rounders of the game.
Yet, he reiterates time and again that special as leading India to World Cup success in 1983 was, the ICL is something more. And so it might well be.
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