Mushtaq Ahmed has said the BCCI can capitalise on the rivalry between the IPL and the unofficial ICL by holding a tournament involving the best teams of both leagues. The ICL were the innovators of the format, he said, and the ban on players joining them was "grossly unfair" and had "no justification".
"I think the BCCI should embrace the ICL and capitalise on all the interest in India surrounding the cold war between the IPL and the ICL," he said in an interview with PakPassion. "Cricket lovers around the world would want to watch the ICL square off against the IPL. The BCCI could generate an insane amount of revenue and sell out every stadium if they held an IPL v ICL tournament. They should seriously look into it, maybe by allowing the ICL champions to play in the Champions Trophy in December and then [take] it from there."
Mushtaq, who is currently contracted with the Lahore Badshahs for two more years in the unofficial ICL, retired from county cricket this season after six years with Sussex following persistent knee trouble.
He refused, however, to be drawn into the debate over which league was better. "The ICL were the innovators of the format and were the ones who put their necks on the line and risked their money in a private Twenty20 championship. They started the trend of paying the players the money they deserve from the profits they generate. The IPL has just jumped on to the ICL bandwagon now that the format has become a proven success.
"As for IPL vs ICL, I haven't played in the IPL but the standard of cricket in the ICL is very tough and it's very competitive. There's only one way to find out which one is better, by having an IPL vs ICL set of games, that's the best way to settle the argument," he said.
He believed it was unfair to stop players from accepting lucrative offers to play for the ICL, considering the low salaries in domestic cricket and was against the move by cricket boards to ban players who choose to play in a tournament like the ICL.
"Doesn't the BCCI understand that not every player will be able to play in the IPL and that competition brings out the best in everyone. What right does anyone have to stop a cricketer from plying his trade? It's not like he's committed a crime or done anything immoral. He's just agreed to play cricket for the ICL just like he plays cricket for his club team, his domestic team or his international team. There's no justification for boards like the PCB to totally ban players from all forms of cricket just because they've chosen to play for the ICL."
The second season of the ICL starts on October 10 with 41 matches scheduled in four venues.