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The Indian Cricket League (ICL) was a private cricket league funded by Zee Entertainment Enterprises that operated between 2007 and 2009 in India. Its two seasons included tournaments between four international teams (The World, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and nine domestic teams notionally located in major Indian cities as well as the champions Lahore Badshahs who were based in Lahore, Pakistan. The matches were played in the Twenty20 format.  There was also a planned domestic 50-over tournament, but this did not eventuate. While its establishment pre-dated the Indian Premier League, the ICL folded in 2009. Aside from commercial factors, the ICL lacked the support of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and International Cricket Council.


Zee Telefilms, part of the Essel group promoted by Subhash Chandra, had bid for the telecast rights to the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Although the highest bid, it was unsuccessful. In 2004, Subhash Chandra again bid for telecast rights and ended up in an inconclusive court battle. He made another bid for the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy rights and once again lost. He responded by creating the ICL. “They denied us the cricket content,” said Himanshu Mody, business head of ICL and Zee’s sports,“so, we had to create our own content.” [1] Zee Telefilms announced that it would partner with major infrastructure group IL&FS to create a new, ambitious cricket organisation, the Indian Cricket League.[2] with prize money of one million US dollars in the initial edition for the winning team.

The ICL was set up with a billion dollar Indian Rupee corpus, and was to initially comprise six teams playing Twenty20 cricket, with plans to expand to sixteen teams within three years and to eventually move to 50-over matches. These plans, if they had been realised, would have made the ICL the richest professional league in India. On 24 July 2007, some famous international names were announced to have signed to play in the ICL, including highest innings record-holder Brian Lara.[3]

Due to the unofficial nature of the league, most of the national cricket boards warned their players against joining it and as a result most of the international players who signed for the first edition were retired internationals, such as Brian Lara, Chris Cairns and Craig McMillan, or former players no intention of breaking back into their national team, such as Chris Read and Daryl Tuffey (who has since broken back in the New Zealand team, after breaking ties with the league). A notable exception was Imran Farhat, who chose to opt out of his Pakistan Central contract to sign with the League.[4] Former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad said he was not able to understand why the PCB would not allow its players to participate in the league and why it was threatening players with a lifetime ban.[5] The PCB subsequently banned players involved in the ICL from playing domestic cricket, a move that prompted some players, notably Farhat and Taufeeq Umar, to threaten court action.[6]

The opposition to the league from the national cricket boards across the world and the International Cricket Council (ICC) was continued into the league's second edition. Several international ICC players who were signed to play domestic cricket for teams in the English County Championship, including Shane Bond, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mushtaq Ahmed and Jason Gillespie were unable to fulfill their County Championship contracts because the home counties cricket boards refused to grant them the necessary documents to play in England.[7]

The first edition of the league commenced on 30 November 2007. The league consisted of six teams with the matches played at Panchkula, near Chandigarh. Matches were initially held at Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula, near Chandigarh, Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad, and at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon [1], near New Delhi. In 2008, ICL games were played at more venues.

The first edition had 6 teams; this was expanded to 8 in early 2008, and one more team was added in the second half of that year. Players participating in this league had been threatened with bans by the cricket boards of their respective countries, as the ICL was regarded by them as an unsanctioned rebel league.[8][9] However most of the players continue to play first class cricket under the control of their respective boards.  The first edition concluded on 16 December 2007 with the Chennai Superstars winning the first title. The second edition was a 50 over tournament played from 7 January 2008 to 28 January 2008 at Mayajaal Cricket Ground, near Chennai, with Chennai Superstars winning again. A third edition which commenced on 9 March 2008 saw the league expanded to eight teams and matches being played at two further venues, Hyderabad and Gurgaon. The Hyderabad Heroes won the 3rd edition. The fourth edition was a domestic Twenty-20 tournament won by Chandigarh Lions.

The second season, which added Ahmedabad as a venue, commenced in the last quarter of 2008, with the Lahore Badshahs from Pakistan winning.

League structure[]

Each team was coached by a former international cricketer and comprised four international, two Indian and eight budding domestic players. Essel Group also planned to set up cricket academies all over the country. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was assured that it was free to draw from ICL's talent pool. The league became active in November 2007 with matches in the Twenty20 format.

Former international cricketers including Kapil Dev, Tony Greig, Dean Jones and Kiran More were hired as board members of the Indian Cricket League.[10] The board positions will be paid positions.[11]

  • Nine teams of private clubs :
    • Mumbai Champs
    • Chennai Superstars
    • Chandigarh Lions
    • Hyderabad Heroes
    • Royal Bengal Tigers (Kolkata)
    • Delhi Giants
    • Ahmedabad Rockets
    • Lahore Badshahs
    • Dhaka Warriors

  •  Each team had a paid mentor, media manager, psychologist and physiotherapist
  •  There was a US$ 1 million prize for the winning club team
  •  An Ombudsman is available to look into grievances of players

ICL World Teams[]

The World

  • John Emburey - Coach,

  • Chris Cairns - Captain
  • Andrew Hall,
  • Chris Harris,
  • Damien Martyn,
  • Daryl Tuffey,
  • Ian Harvey,
  • Jimmy Maher,
  • Johan van der Wath,
  • Lou Vincent (Wicketkeeper),
  • Marvan Atapattu,
  • Matthew Elliot,
  • Michael Kasprowicz,
  • Russel Arnold


  • Steve Rixon - Coach

V.S.Siddharth - Captain

  • Rajagopal Satish - Captain
  • Abbas Ali,
  • Abhishek Jhunjhunwala,
  • Abu Nacheem,
  • Ali Murtaza,
  • Ambati Rayudu,
  • Ganapathi Vignesh,
  • Ibrahim Khaleel (Wicketkeeper),
  • Love Ablish,
  • Ravi Raj Patil,
  • Rohan Gavaskar,
  • Stuart Binny,
  • Syed Mohammed,
  • Thiru Kumaran,
  • TP Sudhindra,
  • Sarbjit Singh,
  • Tejinder Pal Singh,
  • V. Sarvanan


  • Moin Khan - Coach

  • Inzamam-ul-Haq - Captain
  • Azhar Mahmood
  • Taufeeq Umar
  • Imran Farhat
  • Rana Naved-ul-Hasan
  • Abdul Razzaq
  • Naved Latif
  • Humayun Farhat
  • Tabish shaikh
  • Shahid Nazir
  • Hasan Raza
  • Mohammad Sami
  • Imran Nazir
  • Riaz Afridi
  • Shabbir Ahmed


  • Balwinder Sandhu - Coach

  • Habibul Bashar - Captain
  • Aftab Ahmed
  • Alok Kapali
  • Dhiman Ghosh
  • Farhad Reza
  • Manjural Islam
  • Golam Mabud
  • Mahbubul Karim
  • Mohammad Rafique
  • Mohammad Sharif
  • Mosharraf Hossain
  • Shahriar Nafees
  • Tapash Baisya

ICL Domestic Teams[]

Main article: Chandigarh Lions


First season[]

Main article: ICL 20-20 Indian Championship 2007/08
Main article: ICL 50s 2007/08
Main article: ICL 20s Grand Championship 2007/08
Main article: ICL 20s World Series 2007/08

Second season[]

Main article: ICL 20-20 Indian Championship 2008/09
Main article: ICL 20s World Series 2008/09

Reasons for creation[]

Template:Unreferenced section Several factors have played a role in formulation of a cricket league which may run in parallel to the current official Indian cricket control body, BCCI.

The "Inverted Pyramid" cricket structure[]

Template:Unreferenced section There is wide disparity between the facilities enjoyed by the national team and the regional ones. This makes the regional players far from finished products when they are called to represent their country, preventing a huge country like India from having adequate reserve strength in the national squad when key players are injured or retire. Also, the regional cricket boards depend on the BCCI for hand-outs of funds for infrastructure and grassroots development. The players who are entrenched at the top have strong backing from sports management firms and also can afford the best in personal trainers, physiotherapists and technical consultants, which are well beyond the scope of the average player.

Zee Telefilms desire to create sports content[]

Template:Unreferenced section The Essel group has expressed a keen desire to help India develop cricketing talent, as well as provide lucrative sports programming for Zee Telefilms, which lost out on the rights to broadcast all BCCI-sanctioned cricket matches in India until 2011.

Essel Group had originally launched Zee Sports earlier with the anticipation of bagging at least some of the BCCI telecast rights in 2006. This was followed by Zee acquiring 50 percent in TEN Sports in November 2006 for Rs. 257 crore (Rs. 2.57 billion). This gave the company a few international cricket rights — West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Cricket played in India generates Rs. 1,000 crore (Rs. 10 billion) in advertising and subscription revenue and Subhash Chandra has been acutely aware of his company missing out on this lucrative cricket pie.

During his battle with BCCI and ESPN Star Sports for the five-year telecast rights in August–September 2004 in the Bombay High Court, Chandra was present every day for the hearings. Despite Zee bidding the highest at $307 million, BCCI and its then president Jagmohan Dalmiya denied him the rights.

The pain of denial has been with Chandra since 2000 when the ICC World Cup rights were sold to NewsCorp’s Global Cricket Corporation (GCC) for $550 million despite Zee bidding the highest at $650 million citing Zee's insufficient sports marketing experience.

In August 2005, Zee again emerged as a forerunner with a pitch of over $340 million while ESPN Star Sports, the other principal contender, is believed to have offered around $325 million. BCCI took the stance that Zee was not qualified as a specialist broadcaster and refused to consider Zee’s proposal. The matter expectedly went to court and Doordarshan emerged the beneficiary.

Chandra then tried the political route too and supported Sharad Pawar’s candidature as BCCI president against Dalmiya. Pawar emerged victorious but not Chandra. In the last round of bidding in February, last year, it was Nimbus who bagged BCCI’s telecast rights till 2011 for $613 million with Zee trailing at $513 million.

Since there was a Zee-Nimbus alliance before the bidding, media pundits thought Nimbus’ bid was a Zee front. But Nimbus chose to go its own way and launched its own sports network – NEO Sports.

Support for the league[]

Template:Ref improve section The ICL has received support from some unexpected quarters. There was a fear that lack of access to infrastructure, like the premier cricket stadiums, would limit the success of the operation of the league, but support from various government bodies has boosted the league. Camps will be held at Mayajaal in Chennai, which is a private resort with good cricket facilities.[12] Indian Railways chief Lalu Prasad has shown his backing by opening all the cricket stadiums controlled by the Indian Railways to the league. Describing the ICL as a “good initiative”, Prasad has issued a statement saying that the BCCI and ICL should each come up with a cricket team and play against each other to show who's the best. [2] The state government of West Bengal has also agreed to rent its cricket grounds, notably Eden Gardens, to the league.[13]


BCCI Response[]

Template:Ref improve section The BCCI refused to recognise the ICL as a cricket league, and criticised Kiran More and Kapil Dev for joining the ICL.[14] Kapil Dev's association with ICL was seen by the establishment as a conflict of interest as he was also the chairman of National Cricket Academy, a BCCI owned cricket facility.[15] On August 21, 2007 Kapil Dev was sacked from his NCA post.[16]  Subhash Chandra had earlier stated that the ICL will go ahead regardless of the BCCI's stance. The International Cricket Council gave a statement through its chief executive, Malcolm Speed, that the ICC would not recognize the ICL unless the BCCI chooses to recognise it. The ICC looks at the ICL as an issue to be sorted out by the BCCI. On July 25, 2012 Kapil Dev informed BCCI that he has resigned from the rebel league ICL and will continue supporting them, thereby paving way to get back into the BCCI fold. [17]

Faced with the threat of young players joining the ICL, the BCCI jacked up prize money for winners, runners-up and losing semi-finalists across all tournaments. An average domestic cricketer can hope to make around Rs 35,000 per match day from the season of 2007-08: more than double the Rs 16,000 they got in 2005-06. The BCCI has also planned to do away with honorary selectors, who will be paid professionals from September 2008 onwards.[18]

The BCCI started its own international Twenty20 league. The official league, which launched in April 2008, is called the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket. The league model is based on the franchise model of the National Football League and Major League Baseball in the USA.[19]

ICL takes BCCI to court[]

Template:Ref improve section In August 2007, the ICL filed a petition against the BCCI in the Delhi High Court accusing the BCCI of threatening and intimidating them and other state organisations, and asked the court to stop BCCI from interfering with its attempts to sign up players for its tournaments. It also petitioned that the BCCI stop trying to "out-hire" cricket stadiums in India that are owned by the state governments, in anti-competitive attempts to stop the ICL from using them to play matches.

On August 27, 2007, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of the ICL. In its ruling, the Delhi High Court said that players should not suffer in the battle between corporate giants. The court has issued notices to all corporate sponsors, the state cricket associations & the BCCI against terminating valid contracts of players joining the ICL.[20]

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) of India had asked its Director-General of Investigation to do an initial investigation into the BCCI's action against players who had joined the ICL. The investigation was based on media reports of the BCCI giving an open statement that it will ban players who join ICL. It was also reported in the media that all state associations, under direction from the BCCI, have cancelled contracts with players.[21]

Pressure on Players from Other National Organisations[]

Template:Ref improve section In considering rejoining the ICL former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon was said to have put his career in jeopardy because any player that signs up with the ICL, which does not have official status from the International Cricket Council, risks losing their registration.[22]

The addition of a new team from Dhaka in Bangladesh, consisting largely of Bangladesh internationals caused more controversy as the cricket board of that country banned the players for 10 years for joining the 'rebel' ICL.[23] Faced with the departure of so many players the board appealed to other Bangladeshi players to reject the new ICL team, stay loyal to the board and embrace the opportunity to play for their country.[24]

The Downfall of the ICL[]

Template:Ref improve section The future of ICL has become dark when BCCI allowed ICL players to play international matches.Since then many ICL players have returned to their national team including famous players like Shane Bond (now retired) and Abdul Razzaq.

The huge success of IPL is also a reason of the coming down of ICL.

Shortly before the conclusion of the inaugural tournament, the ICL announced its plans for expansion, which include a fifty over tournament in February 2008, and the expansion of the ICL Indian Championship to eight teams for the second tournament, due to be held in September and October 2008.[25]

A similar initiative has been launched in United States by the PayAutoMata group but details have yet to emerge.[26]

In October 2008, the promoters of the ICL, Zee and its parent company Essel Sports Pvt. Ltd, had applied for trademark registration of T20 under Class 28 of the Trade Mark Rules, 2002.[27] [28]

Transparency Issues[]

Template:Unreferenced section Independent analysts have had difficulty gauging the financial viability of the ICL due to the lack of transparency of the league’s operations. Terms of contracts are hidden and advertising revenue from match telecasts — considered to be a major contributor to revenues — have never been disclosed. Because they are unsanctioned by the ICC, the teams do not have access to the best facilities across the whole country or access to the best players, limiting their ability to generate high gate revenues. This lack of transparency leads to questions regarding the overall viability of the ICL’s business model.Template:Citation needed

The end of ICL[]

The ICL has now come to an end after all its players dropped out.This was because of the offer of amnesty given by BCCI to players choosing to leave the ICL.

Broadcasting of ICL[]

Since the ICL was conducted by Zee Telefilms, the ICL was broadcast in most domains on the Zee network.[29]

Broadcaster Regional Broadcast Rights
Zee Sports
Global Rights, India -- Hindi, Bangladesh & USA
Ten Sports
India -- English, Bangladesh, Pakistan & Middle East
ATN Bangla
North Africa
Astro TVIQ
Fox Sports
Zee Music
Zee Smile AsiaTemplate:Citation needed
Zee TV
Caribbean Media Corporation

Broadcasting Ban[]

In November 2008, the Bangladeshi government set a ban on the broadcasting of live matches of the ICL on the private held Diganta TV channel in the country. This would extend to the ICL World Series featuring the country's national team.[30]

Other private cricket leagues[]

Most professional cricket around the world is run by the national cricket boards of the full members of the ICC, but there have been several previous attempts to create professional leagues outside the established system. Like the ICL, each of them came into conflict with the establishment:

  • World Series Cricket was formed by Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer in the late 1970s, and played a major role in the development of limited overs cricket and commercialisation of the game.
  • Pro Cricket League in USA formed by Kalpesh Patel. It started with eight teams on 2 July 2004 and expired the same year.[31]
  • Indian Cricket League (USA) formed in 2005 by PayAutoMata Group in the U.S. state of Florida.
  • Stanford 20/20 formed in 2006 by billionaire Sir Allen Stanford in the West Indies. It has since reconciled with the cricket establishment, gaining recognition by the West Indies Cricket Board.


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  8. Indian Board Threatens To Ban Players Who Play In ICL, Cricket World, retrieved August 3, 2008
  9. South African players warned over rebel league, Reuters, retrieved August 3, 2008
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External links[]

Template:National sports leagues of India Template:Cricket in India

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