Cricket icons from the State are on national duty. The other top players are with the India A team. Players from other States are not allowed. The franchisees are a dejected lot. The Karnataka State Cricket Association and the governing council show least interest after passing on the duties to “incompetent” agencies. The prevailing situation has become a “perfect recipe” for ruining the Karnataka Premier League, which otherwise held the potential to be the best State-level cricket league in India.
“The league this year is reduced to a mediocre level tournament,” says veteran Cricket writer and administrator Joseph Hoover. “The league is in its seventh season and eight franchisees have quit in six years. They were benevolent caretakers of the game. They pumped in the money needed to run the league. They don’t even get the respect they deserve. This could have been the best league at this level. Ironically, rules and situation don’t permit the presence of the top level players. The organisers (KSCA) and the Governing Council have no professionalism. And, the Karnataka Premier League has lost its sting.”
The standard of cricket is affected as the best talent from the State is playing for India and India A. Star attractions KL Rahul and Karun Nair are in England for the Test series. Other key players like Manish Pandey, Samarth R, K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal and Prassidh Krishna have been picked to represent India.
Until last year first class cricketers from other States were playing in the KPL. Having denied players from the other States for the Tamil Nadu Premier League earlier this year, the BCCI had no option but to also enforce the rule strictly for the KPL. This has led to a forced exodus for the quality talent KPL would get from outside the State.
“The KPL Governing Council was well aware that the BCCI rules do not permit outstation players for the State-level professional cricket leagues. It still included some players in the auction pool,” says Hoover.
Franchisees cannot be blamed for picking the better options available at the auction. As the tournament was about to start, BCCI strictly denied outstation players for the KPL. This did not just weaken the teams, but has also imbalanced the league badly – severely affecting the teams’ plans, strategies and infuriating the franchise owners.
Annoyed franchise are now asking KSCA to remove Robin Uthappa, Amit Verma, K B Pawan among others who had taken the No Objection Certificate from KSCA to represent other State teams. Uthappa last year had played for Saurashtra, Verma has moved to Goa while Pawan is tipped to be joining Puducherry.
The KSCA players who have taken NOCs to represent other States in the domestic first class cricket technically become “outstation cricketers” for Karnataka. Now, if they are also dropped the league the league will be reduced to a farce.
Scheduling is another area of concern. Poor scheduling has already seen the Hubli leg of the tournament hurriedly being moved to Mysore due heavy rains. The franchisees in the present mess are the biggest losers. The moot question arises that who will compensate the benevolent entrepreneurs who invest over ₹ 1.5 crore to promote cricket in the region and get nothing but humiliation and frustration.