New Delhi:One of the most hotly debated issues in Indian cricket right now is the advent of the rebel Indian Cricket League and whether it stands a chance against it's more high-profile and official cousin, the IPL.
The jury is still out on whether the ICL can survive the competition, but as of now the Boses at the Essel owned Zee group are going all out to sell the ICL product.
The Essel Group's Indian Cricket League or the ICL flaunting its big names -- Brian Lara, Chris Cairns, Marvan Atapattu and Inzamam-ul-Haq are in India gearing up for the kick off on Friday the 30th of November.
Lara's delayed arrival had raised speculation that he may be pulling out.
But the former West Indian captain says he always intended to keep his commitment even though this league is totally unofficial and does not have the backing of the ICC.
"The ICC is trying to encourage new countries like China and America to play cricket. I am disappointed it is not supporting a league where so many international stars are participating," said Brian Lara.
The main difference between the ICL and the soon to be launched IPL or Indian Premier League is clearly the star power.
The IPL has already signed on 50 of the top current players in the world. But most cricketers believe that there will still be a place for the ICL.
It is a safe haven for recently retired players and those who are on the fringes of domestic cricket in India.
"Cricketers have been brave to defy their national boards in seeking this opportunity to play in the ICL," said Chris Cairns.
However, the biggest difference between the official IPL and the unofficial ICL is sponsorship.
While the IPL hopes to raise a 1000 crores from TV rights, the Essel group backed ICL still does not have any sponsors. It has only got partners for drinks, uniforms and travel. But maybe that is to be expected for a new venture.
"Essel group has truckloads of money," said Navjot Sidhu, NDTV's cricket expert.
So, the ICL is the definite underdog, but they have promised slick coverage, great action and more importantly a platform for players to earn more money.