By Vijay Tagore, (Ahmedabad Mirror) The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does not permit its players to take part in the Twenty20 leagues overseas but the organisers of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) are confident of having Indian players in the tournament someday. A top CPL official was here at the Wankhede on Thursday night as a special guest, and he returned assured with the thought that India’s passion for cricket will reach the shores of the Caribbean.
“We can’t have Indian players at this stage but we’ll never say never. The CPL’s quality is as good as that of the IPL, and we will like to have a chance to give Indian players an opportunity to showcase their talent. That is not possible (anytime soon) but we hope it will happen sometime in the future,” the Caribbean League’s Chief Operating Officer Pete Russell told Mirror yesterday.
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The West Indian official has claimed that Indian business houses have shown a great deal of interest towards the CPL. “A couple of Indian nationals are involved. Someone called Ajay Sethi is an owner of a team and there is a tremendous interest from corporate India to be part of the league. The Indian nationals back home are closely involved. The Indian flavour is increasing by the day,” Russell said.
The official agrees that the timing of the CPL is a problem for Indian audiences as it is held in the wee hours of IST, but he is confident players such as Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo can attract India. “The timing of the CPL is a struggle. But a tournament has to be successful in its own country first before getting popular overseas. T20 is played under lights. We know it is not the best time necessarily for India. But Pollard and Bravo are more Indians than West Indians. Indian crowds like these players, their presence should be an attraction here,” he said.
The West Indian hopes to take the CPL to different countries just like the IPL went to the UAE last year. The shift, he thinks, will attract global audiences. “We’re also looking to play the tournament outside the Caribbean island. There might be an opportunity to build more sustainable audiences in India.” Champions League T20 has been a major attraction for the CPL. News of its likely shutdown is a dampener to the Caribbean teams, though Russell hoped alternative arrangements would be made. “Shame if it’s scrapped. I’m sure the BCCI will emerge with something equally impactful. We hope to be part of it,” he signed off.