When the first ball was bowled at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, there were apprehensions about the pitch and the conduct of the competition. Spectator response remained a challenge because we had little time to convince our friends that this was a venture aimed at promoting and grooming cricketers across the country. I am glad we have managed to make such an enormous impact as the Indian Cricket League 20-20 Indian Championship enters its final phase.
Believe me, it was a struggle. It was tough to find grounds and support. But I thank the Haryana Government from the core of my heart for the wonderful encouragement they gave us in our difficult times. The cricketing fraternity shall remain indebted for this gesture from a state that is known to have a special place in its heart for sportsmen.
When we began the ICL, we knew the expectations from the spectators would be high. It was something unique in Indian cricket. It was a tournament that was being conducted by the players. In ICL, the administration is in the hands of cricketers and I am so happy we have managed to have a tournament that has had its share of glorious moments.
The ICL is all about cricket and nothing else. The selections are made on merit and I must appreciate the efforts of the Essel Group for keeping its faith in cricketers. Doubts had been raised about the abilities of the players to stage a competition of this magnitude. The results are there for you to see.
On the cricketing front, we saw some splendid fare right through the tournament. The young lads, with dreams in their eyes, rubbed shoulders with some legends of the game. For them this was the biggest gain from the tournament. True, there was big money to be made but the incentive was to play and learn in the company of stars like Brian Lara, Inzamam ul Haq, Chris Cairns, Craig McMillan. I know the youngsters have performed and shown promise for an even bigger tournament next year.
Personally I am very happy with the way the matches were contested. There was intensity on the field. The commitment from the foreign players was exemplary and they contributed immensely in making this tournament so popular. I know from experience what a youngster can gain in terms of cricketing riches by sharing the dressing room with some greats of the game. I look forward eagerly to see who will come out on top in todays final