NEW DELHI: India’s largest media company today announced the launch of a million-dollar cricket series that threatens to overrun official matches in the country.
Zee Telefilms said six teams, each featuring four international players, two Indian stars and eight upcoming cricketers, will take part in Twenty-20 matches to be played in India in July-August.
Zee chief Subhash Chandra, who announced the series, declined to name the players he had signed up for what is being regarded as a direct challenge to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The Indian Cricket League, as the series will be called, will be expanded to one-day cricket later, Chandra said.
There was no immediate reaction from the BCCI on the league that is reminiscent of the rebel World Cricket Series started by the late Australian TV magnate Kerry Packer in 1977.
Packer launched his series after being denied official TV rights by the Australian Cricket Board for matches played in the country.
Zee Telefilms was rebuffed by the BCCI in 2004 despite being the highest bidder of 308 million dollars for Indian rights for a four-year period.
The BCCI cancelled Zee’s contract after rival ESPN-Star, a joint subsidiary of Disney and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., challenged the bidding process in court.
The rebel league comes less than two weeks after India were knocked out of the World Cup in the first round.
The BCCI is holding a brainstorming session in Mumbai on Friday and Saturday to discuss the World Cup debacle.