‘Here cricket is with the cricketers’

Kapil Dev is very confident of the success of the Indian Cricket League. He speaks to Vijay Lokapally on the new venture’s goals and its future.

Kapil Dev, one of India’s greatest cricketers and the man who led India to World Cup victory in 1983, is optimistic about the future of ICL. “The new venture offers plenty of opportunities to the players, umpires and coaches. There is place for a cricketer in ICL, which is not always the case with the BCCI, where you have to be in the good books of the officials to get an opportunity,” he says.

The excerpts:

Question: Are you optimistic about ICL’s future?

Answer: If I was not optimistic I would not have joined this venture. I did it because I believed in myself. But let me tell you one thing: not everything is in my hands. We need the financial backing for the venture to take off in a b ig way. As cricketers we need to take care of ourselves because the BCCI has always made the players feel insecure.

What are the gains of having a league like ICL?

There are lots of positives. A cricketer can improve his quality of life. The youngsters with ICL are very committed, very brave. They know how to stand up for their rights because they know their rights. It is so different from my times. They also respect their seniors a lot.

What do you expect of the cricketers who have joined ICL?

They need to perform. They know they need to play well in order to survive. In this country sportsmen are not treated well. God has been kind to me; I can look after my family very well. But I am disturbed when I meet some of my old colleagues, when they hold my hand and plead for some job, some security in life. It pains me to see guys who played with me struggling to look after their family. I don’t want to name them, but there are some who retired at 35 and have no work. Money is not everything in life but dignity is.

How far do you think ICL can go?

We can sustain it for three years, but that’s not the aim. I appreciate Mr. Subhash Chandra. More than a decade ago he started a music talent search show, which has now grown big and has discovered a number of talented youngsters who sang their way to celebrity status. The same help is being extended to the cricketers through ICL.

Some BCCI officials have said that you joined ICL only for money…

Are these BCCI officials working for free? Why don’t they allow us to work for the betterment of the cricketers? We are not snatching any money from the BCCI. It is this kind of thinking of these officials that has harmed the game in the country. Who doesn’t want money? They (BCCI officials) talk as if they work for free.

How different is the ICL set-up when compared with the BCCI?

ICL is a new venture that offers plenty of opportunities to the players, umpires and coaches. There is place for a cricketer in the ICL, which is not always the case with the BCCI, where you have to be in the good books of the officials to get an opportunity.

ICL also plans to start cricket nurseries and academies. We will involve more cricketers. I would seek guidance from former cricketers. I would love to see Tiger Pataudi come forward and help the boys. At ICL, cricket is with the cricketers.