Lalit Modi might be facing a life ban from the Indian cricket board but he continues to make his moves in Indian cricket as the president of Rajasthan Cricket Association. A T20 league called Rajasthan Premier League (RPL), which is likely to feature not just domestic cricketers from the state but also recently-retired international superstars of the game, is in the works. This could very well set off alarm bells in the BCCI’s corridors of power.
Though the RPL is not a unique venture considering other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have also floated their own local T20 leagues, it is likely to be the biggest drawcard if it plays host to the megastars of the sport, even those who have been the glittering lights of the IPL in the years gone by. Not to forget the man behind the league, who’s renowned for his penchant for razzmattaz and an innate ability to swing lucrative deals.
While they are yet to approach BCCI for a No Objection Certificate, RCA has been firming up their plans for the tournament. It is understood that RCA has been in talks with Ten Sports to broadcast its league – the deal will be finalised in coming few days.
However, a top BCCI official has stated that even though Modi happens to be persona non grata for several in the BCCI it’s unlikely they will be able to stop the RPL. “They can host the league as it’s a domestic tournament and anyway they are hosting their own inter-district and other tournaments,” an official said. Associations from Karnataka and Maharashtra have been running local T20 leagues for a while now, with official sanction from the BCCI.
RCA secretary Sumendra Tiwary confirmed that a T20 league is in the pipeline, and said it would give more exposure to the players in the state. “It’s in the planning stage and though nothing has been finalised yet, we will decide soon whether to have a T20 league or not. The talks are on,” Tiwary told The Indian Express. However, RCA officials are tight-lipped about the presence of foreign stars for now, they are not ruling it out.
Tiwary also spoke about Modi’s involvement with the venture. “He (Modi) is part of it; after all he is the president of RCA. “Tournament acha he hoga, it will good exposure for the boys. We (RCA) have always welcomed experiments. We are conducting a pink ball four-day game in Rajasthan now, the second association to do it after Bengal. I and Modi are keen to have such kind of innovative ideas. After all having T20 games will give more exposure to the boys.”
As per BCCI rules, any association that wants to host a T20 league at the state level would have to get NOC from the Indian board. The BCCI, which runs IPL, also mandates that only the state players play in the state T20 leagues, and doesn’t allow players from other states or countries.
Karnataka Association was the first to start a T20 league when Brijesh Patel started Karnataka Premier League in 2009. In 2011, it was suspended for two years when
Anil Kumble became the president of KSCA, and it was revived when Patel came back to power in 2014. Maharashtra also came up with a televised T20 league and recently, Tamil Nadu have announced their version.
Interestingly, local Twenty20 leagues has seen interest from men who are out of favour with the BCCI – N Srinivasan had launched Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Premier League last month. Unlike RCA, though, TNCA isn’t facing any suspension.