New Delhi: Indian cricket leaders are not convinced that a rival league could drive a wedge through the sport's global competition or threaten the power of the International Cricket Council.
After all, they say, this has been tried before in India — and didn't succeed.
Recent reports that billionaire businessman Subhash Chandra is planning to set up a rival cricket system seems far-fetched to most who follow cricket in India, largely because a Twenty20 league launched by his Essel Group several years ago collapsed with millions of dollars reportedly owed to players.
According to news reports in Britain and Australia, the Essel Group has recently registered company names in some test-playing countries, however, in preparation for what could be a move to sign top players and establish a new global Twenty20 league.
"No one can stop someone from setting it up (a new system), but to dislodge what is established is very difficult," Niranjan Shah, the former secretary for the Indian cricket board (BCCI), told The Associated Press.
The Essel Group said in a statement last week that it wants to build a sports business with a focus on cricket and promote the game as a global sport. It has not commented on reports about setting up a rival league with huge salaries to star players.
The ICC said late last week it was investigating the registration of company names in various countries. But BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur was among those saying he was not worried about any possible plans by the group.
"The ICC is cricket's only world (governing) body," Thakur told India's Hindi Aaj Tak news channel. "There have been attempts before but everyone has seen how they collapsed whether in India (the Indian Cricket League from 2007-09), Australia (World Series Cricket in the late 1970s) or anywhere else."
The rebel ICL managed to lure many Indian and foreign players for its brief two-season run, but failed to pay many of them before folding. The Indian players were subsequently allowed back in the BCCI fold in an amnesty scheme.
Former India allrounder Madan Lal believes that gaining players' confidence will be the biggest challenge for anyone trying to form a breakaway competition.
"A lot of players put their careers on the line, but the ICL did not care about them," Lal told AP. "Current players will think 10 times before signing up with a new league."
Lal, who says he is still owed money from his stint in the ICL, said a new league of this scale would need to build for at least seven to eight years to be successful.
"In India, it will be very difficult to entice players from the BCCI, so such a structure will have to invest in players for the long run. Moreover, they will also have to invest in infrastructure," he added.
Lalit Modi, the architect of the Indian Premier League, told Britain's Guardian newspaper last week that the idea also did not seem feasible.
"It's not something you can just launch — it will take years," he was quoted as saying. "It is not putting a tournament together, it's about building the sport from the grassroots up."