The surest sign that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a pale shadow of the powerful body that once dominated world cricket came on Thursday when the ICC nonchalantly threw them a few crumbs and sent them on their way.
When the BCCI proposed, and got the member nations to agree to a new financial model in 2014, they stood to gain $610 million if the 2015-2023 ICC revenue was US $2.7 billion. In case the revenue was $5.5 billion then BCCI’s share of it would be $570 million.
But after the BCCI power structure was decimated by the Lodha panel recommendations, and the Supreme Court ensured that most of the key members were forced to step down, the ICC saw this as a golden opportunity to cut a rudderless BCCI to size.
It formed a working group without India — the one who stood to lose — and its members went about giving themselves hefty hikes and at the same time cut India’s share of the revenue to a meagre $293 million.
This exclusion of India should have sent up red flags. But the court-appointed Committee of Administrators (COA) either did not know how to react to the planned raid or did not bother. In either case India were left high and dry.
At the meeting to ratify the fresh changes, India were heavily outvoted. Had the other countries voted with India, their representatives would have been hauled over coals back home for rejecting the proposal that would have given each country’s board substantially more money. Who knows, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh would have even chucked their representative in jail if they had voted with India and deprived their country of more money.
It was cleverly done and way beyond the COA’s ability to grapple with.
The Board though had one powerful option by which it could drag ICC back to the negotiating table: to threaten a boycott of the Champion’s Trophy.
But this is where the COA were found wanting in decision-making. Forget Shashank Manohar reportedly having told the ICC members that India did not have the guts to pull out of the Champions Trophy, COA members irresponsibly tweeted and gave statements that India would take part in the Champions Trophy, thereby weakening any attempt to force the ICC’s hand.
One member thought he was being smart by claiming that he was doing it in his personal capacity. But the damage was done. Even if the BCCI threatened to stay away from the Champions Trophy, there was no guarantee that the COA would back their game.
For good measure, Manohar said he would throw in another $100 million for India! Why would he, if his committee was absolutely sure that the $293 million was a fair and equitable sum?
But the COA said they would persuade the ICC to part with more than the 393 million dollars in the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held post the Champions Trophy. And guess what? They’ve thrown in some pocket change-like 12 million dollars more from the expected revenue of 2.7 billion dollars. BCCI’s loss in this case is a whopping 205 million dollars for they should have got 610 million dollars if the revenue was $2.7 billion. Instead they now have to be happy with $405 million.
Of course 70 to 80 percent of ICC’s revenue comes from India. But that’s not the only reason why BCCI deserves a better deal. In England, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries the government builds cricket infrastructure from grass root levels. However it is the opposite in India.
Take the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) for instance. Earlier, its league and other matches in Bengaluru were predominantly conducted in affiliated schools and colleges playgrounds. But over the past few years most of these open spaces have been lost to shopping complexes, restaurants, hospitals, community halls, building expansion projects, etc.
Luckily KSCA was far-sighted enough to acquire 33 acres of land on the outskirts in the year 2000. Most of the matches are now staged in those grounds.
Likewise, there are 705 other districts in India desperately in need of cricketing infrastructure. Even if the BCCI wants to provide infrastructure in a mere 10 percent of these districts, it would still be humongous by any standard. It would require thousands of crores of rupees.
The ICC, in their haste to cut BCCI to size, has not realised that world cricket would prosper only if BCCI was healthy; unless of course they are acceptable to survive at lower levels of sustenance.
The BCCI currently supports 28 affiliated units and through them more than four dozen stadia are in the process of being revamped or built. The Lodha panel has thrust another few states from the North East onto BCCI and work needs to be done in those states too.
Additionally, BCCI conducts around 1,000 matches every year. This includes Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Under-19, U-16, Women’s cricket, etc.
In comparison to BCCI’s 28 teams in Ranji Trophy, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have just four first-class teams apiece. Their matches are played in one or two venues. South Africa and New Zealand are only marginally better. Sri Lanka’s first-class cricket is actually inter-club league matches, like the league matches conducted by Mumbai, Chennai or Bengaluru.
Thus, as evident, BCCI needed every bit of its due share of the revenue. Instead, now that they have shared the spoils, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh and even Pakistan and West Indies are going to help themselves to unbelievable riches.