As the cricket world gears up for the shortest format of the game, the T10 Cricket League (TCL), a few Indian players, past and present, have shown interest in participating in the tournament. With Virender Sehwag set to lead the Maratha Arabians franchise in the league, which begins in Sharjah on December 14, Sportstar has learnt that the organisers of the TCL have approached a few other players such as Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra — players who are either retired or are out of the national reckoning.
Shaji-ul Mulk, the founder of the TCL, confirmed to Sportstar that there have been talks with the agents of the three players. “Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan have shown their keenness to play in the league. We are in touch with their agents, but as of now, the BCCI hasn’t given them the permission. So we have to wait,” said Shaji-ul Mulk from Dubai on Tuesday.
He, however, was quick to add that if the three players can get the requisite permission from the Board, they can come on-board even after the first draft is over on November 5. “That can be done. But we are waiting for the clearance. As of now, Sehwag is the only Indian representation we have,” Mulk said.
Though the players were mum on the issue, one of them who received the offer to play in the TCL a few weeks ago, too, confirmed to this online publication that he is ‘in talks’ with the tournament organisers, and has also spoken to Rahul Johri, the BCCI CEO, seeking permission.
The response, however, has not been positive.
Terming the TCL as an ‘unapproved league’, the BCCI secretary, Amitabh Chaudhary, however, indicated that the Indian players will not be given permission to play in the tournament. “Any league, whether overseas or in India, which is not approved by the Board will be considered non-authorised. It’s a clear position and we are absolutely unequivocal on that,” he told Sportstar on Wednesday.
Quite interestingly, the T10 League is backed by the Emirates Cricket Board and the organisers have the clearance from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to conduct the league. Top officials of the Emirates Cricket Board confirmed to this online publication that they have given a ‘go-ahead’ to the league and that’s one of the reasons why it has got the official backing from the cricket boards of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Sportstar also has access to the player-contract forms that clearly state that the TCL is an ‘official, Emirates Cricket Board-licensed and sanctioned league’. “It is understood that TCL is an official UAE Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) licensed and sanctioned league and T Ten Sports Management FZE [sic] (A Mulk Holdings Group Company). The TCL shall be executed only after the approval of the ICC,” the contract form states.
It also adds that the financial guarantee of paying for the players and officials shall rest with the TSM. “All monies from franchises shall be collected in advance and deposited into an account controlled jointly by the Emirates Cricket Board and TSM,” says the contract.
A few months ago, media reports quoted the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Vinod Rai as saying that he was open to looking into the matter of allowing the Indian players to play in other leagues. However, a highly-placed source in the CoA told Sportstar that they haven’t heard anything about it from any of the players. “We have not heard anything from players. As per the rule, the BCCI doesn’t allow its players to participate in other leagues. But if it is for retired cricketers, then we have to check,” the source said, drawing reference to the All-Stars tournament that was held in 2015 with Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne as captains.
The source, however, admitted that for former cricketers, who are not involved with any activities related to the BCCI, things could be different. “I don’t know if Sehwag is involved in any Board-related activities. If not, then things are different,” the source said.
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