Yousuf, Smith in IPL fold
The Indian Premier League (IPL), the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) ambitious cash-rich venture, today announced the signing of eleven more international cricketers to play in the inaugural Twenty20 championship in April next year.
Building on its repertoire of hiring some of the best international cricketing talent to play in the IPL, the league has signed up the likes of current South African Captain Graeme Smith and New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori.
South African opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs, Pakistani middle-order batsman Mohammed Yousuf, West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sri Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas were among those who joined the high-profile league, seen as a counter to Subhash Chandra-owned Essel Group’s Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Former Australian opener Justin Langer, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince and Albie Morkel of South Africa, and Scott Styris of New Zealand have also inked IPL contracts for the inaugural season. The signing of these eleven key players takes the total signing of international cricketers to play in the inaugural season to 22.
Earlier, the IPL had already announced the participation of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath of Australia, former Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming and eight Sri Lankan players from the current team, including their skipper Mahela Jayawardene and opener Sanath Jayasuriya.
Interestingly, Yousuf had earlier signed the contract for the rebel ICL which has not been recognised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its member boards. The prolific Pakistani batsman changed his mind after a meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Mr Naseem Ashraf, which made him eligible to play for Pakistan again.
Chairman and commissioner of IPL, Mr Lalit Modi, said: “We had made a promise to the cricket-loving masses of India for some truly international class high-octane action through the Twenty20 format in the IPL.
It is in line with this promise and philosophy that we have signed some of the best cricketing talent on display internationally, including over five players who have captained their respective countries. “We are in talks with some very promising talent and should shortly be making some further announcements.”
The IPL, scheduled for an April 2008 launch, will feature eight franchises in the first season, with each team playing seven home and away games against one another. A grand final would be played towards the end of April, culminating in a clash of the two best club sides in India. The IPL hopes to grow the eight franchises to 16 by 2010.
Each franchise would have a playing squad of 16 players comprising BCCI-registered players drawn from a central contract pool of Indian players. Each IPL team will also feature both under-21 players and designated players per team. The designated players could well be contracted from the Indian national team or overseas contracted players, marking the entry of these professionals into Indian domestic cricket for the first time.
IPL has left ICL a long way behind in recruiting players. ICL created a sensation when they announced Brian Lara and Inzamam ul-Haq as their foreign recruit, and then added many promising Indian cricketers from the Ranji Trophy teams to their fold.
But the IPL hit back with the likes of Warne, McGrath, Fleming alongside the Indian superstars.