New Delhi:The unofficial Indian Cricket League has vowed to emerge stronger despite an exodus of players back to mainstream competition.
"The ICL is not shutting down, it will continue. Our plans for a tournament later this year are on track," said Roland Landers, spokesman of the Essel Group that owns Zee Television, which promotes the ICL.
Recent offers of amnesty by national cricket boards had tempted dozens of players back to officially sanctioned competitions at provincial and national level.
"Going against the grain and the system, there have been hurdles. But we've come back stronger every time," Landers told The Associated Press on Wednesday, a day after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released a list of players who had severed ties with the ICL.
The BCCI said on Tuesday it had granted amnesty to 79 of its players who had featured in the ICL, lifting life bans. Among those returning to the official fold were Hemang Badani, Dinesh Mongia, Sridharan Sriram, Rohan Gavaskar and Deep Dasgupta.
They can resume playing in domestic official cricket immediately, but will have to wait a year before being eligible for India.
Several foreign players had also sought release from their ICL contracts in the hope of national selection.
"We still have 40-50 players on our roster," said Landers. "We'll get more players as and when required."
"Just wait and watch, we'll be back with another event. The next season starts only in October-November."
The ICL, launched two years ago despite opposition from the Indian board and consequent lack of access to the best grounds, has been staged for two seasons.
The players were suspended by their respective national boards as the International Cricket Council (ICC) backed the BCCI's authority to sanction all cricket played in its territory.
The BCCI responded to the ICL's launch by starting the rich Indian Premier League (IPL) which attracted top cricketers from around the world and a strong response from fans.