Two rival leagues in India are better than one for cricket.
Unless you spent the last 48 hours under a rock on Mars, you would be aware of the hoopla over the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) defying the economic slowdown.
Umpire's Post would like to point out that the tournament that actually started the Twenty20 phenomenon in India has already completed two seasons; Lahore Badshahs rode on Imran Nazir's unbeaten swashbuckling 44-ball 111 to rout Hyderabad Heroes by eight wickets in the high-voltage third final to lift the second edition of the Indian Cricket League Championship trophy in Ahmedabad on November 16.
Back then, you may not have been under a rock anywhere and still missed the events of ICL. With the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, and all the gold in its coffers, ensuring that ICL's status is worse than a pariah's, it was possible.
Clearly, IPL has demolished, banished, vanquished and pulverised ICL (all the superfluous adjectives are meant to satiate the death wish of the BCCI bosses). Clearly, there is nothing to fear. So, how about some old-fashioned victor's magnanimity?
That third final mentioned earlier was electric, and Nazir's batting stupefying. Besides, it was good cricket played by largely well-meaning human beings. ICL, bankrolled by Zee Networks chief Subhash Chandra, has not been lacking in the quality of cricket. Its only fault is that Chandra has dared to take cricket in India beyond BCCI's tentacles and he has been at loggerheads with BCCI for not getting the broadcast rights despite bidding more than the others.
But BCCI has been entrenched for over 75 years, boasts of the best international and domestic players of the country, and several tournaments. It is the world's richest sports body and has broadcasters and advertisers eating out of its hands. On Friday, it generated enough signals that the money-spinning IPL continues to ride the gravy train.
Its vehement opposition to ICL reeks of needless insecurity. The board, which once argued in court that the Indian team was actually a BCCI XI and not the national team, is going the way of all monopolies in trying to snuff out the first hint of competition.
ICL may or may not serve Indian cricket. But it can definitely serve cricketers, especially the domestic journeymen, who are good players but will never represent India for a variety of reasons, one of them being BCCI's wayward ways. It is also a boon for international players who have recently retired, or who play for countries where cricket is not a money spinner.
There is one more compelling argument: Shane Bond. One of the fastest bowlers, with the cleanest action, and scourge of Australia, is on the sidelines for being a part of ICL.