As Harsha Bhogle recently noted, the whole gig’s up in the Twenty20 rivalry: the ICL pretty much lost, and the IPL won. No one has money on hand right now, not even Zee’s ever-resourceul chairman, so the IPL and its bosses might as well smile on the puny ICL rebels who dared to leave broken domestic careers for a somewhat lucrative gig.
But no. Not only will the the BCCI refuse to strike a deal with the ICL, it even refuses to countenance its existence: witness the recent fracas in New Zealand, with Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Kaarthik prevented from playing in a Twenty20 because Hamish Marshall (who?) would be present.
This isn’t just stupidity on the ICL front. It’s stupidity because had the BCCI not changed the schedule and included a warm-up match — as is usually customary when any team embarks on a tour — it wouldn’t need to scramble around trying to keep its Test specialists from rusting over. Now, the New Zealand players’ body takes the more-than-reasonable stance that it can’t compel its players from withdrawing just to satisfy the BCCI’s every whim, and the BCCI, stubborn and stupid as ever, may refuse to back down.
And for what? Honestly, who cares if a few ICL players still belong to the New Zealand domestic cricket scheme? God knows that New Zealand’s cricket structure was hurt enough, given its low revenues and few outings (also a BCCI fault, because the BCCI only cares about series that can guarantee money). Does the BCCI really care all that much about Marshall playing opposite Sachin Tendulkar? Why should it?
So, here you have a seires of — sorry to use that word again — stupid mistakes. Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar might very well go into the first Test match without a serious warm-up match. The BCCI might very well let Hamish Marshall and some other unknown New Zealand cricketers what it thinks of it. But, most importantly, the BCCI will confirm what we have long known: it cares about the IPL more than it does international cricket, because with the IPL, it has the most control (i.e., revenue-raising), and it can throw its muscle around. Of course, all this doesn’t hurt Hamish Marshall or the other ICL players: he won’t care if India’s Test cricketers go into a Test match without practice or rehearsal.
As I said — just. stupid. Welcome to the BCCI. And to top it all off, if India were to lose the ODI series — which, incidentally, is now entirely plausible — it would not matter at all to the BCCI. First, the Indian public and press will simply blame the team, rather than its management or the way the BCCI allocates resources; second, no one in India cares that much about the series (because a) it’s New Zealand and b) matches start in the dead of the night).