First things first: The claim that a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) pull out from the Champions Trophy would mean ejection from all International Cricket Council (ICC) events till 2023 is plain bunkum. If BCCI pulls out of CT, the event would take a massive hit. But if India are kept out of all ICC events till 2023, ICC itself would collapse!
It is worth recalling how the 2007 World Cup in West Indies fell on its face after India made an early exit. The last thing any cricketing nation would want is a repetition of those horror days.
So that brings us to a crucial question: Why is the Committee of Administrators (CoA) pushing BCCI to select the squad? Are they worried that BCCI is hedging till the completion of IPL to announce a pull out?
If they do it prematurely, England and Australia could hit back by pulling out their cricketers from the final stages of the 2017 IPL. As per agreement, consent of parent board is mandatory for all current cricketers.
Alternately, has the COA struck an enhanced deal with ICC and now want the BCCI to honour India’s part of it?
Even as a cricketing storm gathers, it is pertinent to ask what those ICC member nations who voted 9-1 in Dubai in early April and pushed world cricket into its current crisis really carved up. Not money on the table for sure; for there was zilch there. Incredibly, they distributed among themselves future revenues, the wealth that ICC had projected they will garner over the eight years up to 2023. The only hitch is there is no money available right now, but they hope US$ 2.5 billion would roll in, most of it from India.
India had assiduously and painstakingly built a huge eco-system for the game. They had nurtured a massive fan following and developed the brand socially and commercially over many decades. This, however, was not to the liking of some within the ICC. Instead of holding BCCI as a shining example of how to grow the game and further enrich it, they ganged up at an opportune time to raid BCCI when it was headless and at its weakest. A veritable stab in the back!
The COA which asked BCCI to select the team for Champions Trophy “with no prejudice to legal options”, is correct when it says that BCCI must cater to the interests of Indian cricket. But what is in its best interest over the long haul and which ensures the rights of future generations is the question.
Bluntly, those that look for long term goals within the prism of next month’s Champions Trophy can’t see the wood for the trees!
Lessons from our colonial past where Mir Jafar gave the British a toe-hold into the sub-continent that led to 200 years of slavery must never be forgotten.
In cricketing context this is the only sport over which India have some control. Surrendering it under any pretext can never be in the long term interests of Indian cricket. Unfortunately it might come to that as interventions and blunders have weakened Indian cricket structure and pushed it into a very deep sink-hole.
Even three years ago not a single country’s board, including that of Pakistan, would have had the gumption to launch an attack on BCCI. If equations are changed wherein even minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are not daunted by BCCI, the reasons are not very difficult to see. This is the legacy that future generations of Indian cricket stand to inherit.
The gang of nine boards that voted to give themselves a substantial hike of future earnings (up to 2023 but this could be template for all time to come) also squeezed India out of US$ 200 million of its share. However, while we know what they are taking away, nowhere is it clear what they are bringing to the table.
In short, they have voted to grab the riches but are under no obligation to generate resources. That some of these countries cannot even generate one single boundary line advertising board is conveniently not mentioned.
In real-life analogy what this means is, if you build a 5-bedroom bungalow and use just one, three others can grab one each and leave the remaining one for you. Their need would be great; they’d have outvoted you on it and in any case they have given you one more bedroom than the others have!
This is the exact logic with which ICC steered the meeting: India brings in the money; others need that money and in any case they have given India more than what others got! Not to forget, it was by a 9-1 vote!
May be ICC should organise a Deloitte audit to reveal how much revenue each of this gang of nine annually brings to the table. Alternately, ICC which brazened the amounts each of these nations would gain if they voted in a particular way must also reveal in as brazen a manner as to how much money these nations would bring during the period 2015 to 2023.
In fact, it would be interesting to find out what Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies would generate in the next six years. For that matter, what would be the contribution of England, Australia and South Africa? After all they are the ones who voted to turn India into one gigantic sweatshop for international cricket.
Currently India cricket has no option but to regularly generate income for the sustainability of others. If they don’t like it, they’d be outvoted and forced to work extra hard to generate more funds. Others can even have a lien on BCCI’s future earnings. If BCCI does not like it, it can once again be put to vote. If they still object they can be again voted down.
It is worth recalling where the ICC stood not so long ago. The BCCI, led by Jagmohan Dalmiya and IS Bindra, had fought a long and hard battle to strip England and Australia of veto powers. These two nations who had run ICC to the ground had done little or nothing to globalise the sport. Cricket was in its death throes.
Subsequently, when Dalmiya took over as chairman of ICC after another hard battle wherein virtually every trick in the book was used to thwart him, he was shocked to find that ICC was broke and had no money to pay even airfare.
It was then that he took it on himself to shore up its finances. Thus was born the ICC KnockOut Tournament in 1998. (The name was changed to ICC Champions Trophy in 2002.) The property was owned by ICC and television deals struck shored up ICC coffers.
Initially the tournament was an ODI knock-out event for Test-playing nations only. Dalmiya decided to have it in neutral venues so that he could spread the game while making money for ICC.
It is this Champions Trophy that could spell the doom of cricket relations if ICC continue to seek ways to kill the golden goose.