The International Cricket Council (ICC) and Shashank Manohar would probably heave a sigh of relief now that the Supreme Court has barred N Srinivasan from attending the ICC board meeting in Dubai on 26 April.
Srinivasan was the chief architect of ICC’s revenue sharing formula which would have seen India, among the 'big three' (India, Australia and England), earning maximum from ICC’s share of the revenue in the eight year period 2015 to 2023. He knew the figures and had worked the revenue earning and sharing formula to the satisfaction of Australia, England and other countries.
But when he was swept away by the spot-fixing storm and subsequently removed from BCCI, a number of others decided that this was the best time to go fishing, work themselves into plum positions or also cut India to size.
Thus Monday’s court ruling that shut the doors on sending Srinivasan as BCCI’s representative for the ICC allowed some personnel to breathe easy.
Earlier, pointedly, the London newspaper Telegraph had observed that “The ICC has taken advantage of the fact the Indian board is in turmoil...” and revamped the whole set-up. This best summed up how the ICC was going about its business of altering the power structure.
The formula worked out by Srinivasan and company had ensured that if the ICC made US $2.5 billion during the 2015-23 period, India’s share would be around US $470 million. The new formula, if passed, would cut this down by a whopping 190 million dollars. (Wonder what the Indian government, which is desperately trying to rake in precious foreign exchange would have to say about this).
The other two ‘big three’ powers would lose little or nothing. Australia would get the same amount as envisaged earlier while England would lose as little as 25 million dollars.
However, all the other countries stood to gain by around 20 to 30 million dollars each. This additional money is being taken out from India’s legitimate share of the revenue and this has caused widespread anguish among Indian cricket’s stake holders. They are also peeved that the manner in which it was being done was arbitrary and damaging.
So much so that even BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (COA) member Vikram Limaye who attended the previous ICC meeting in February recently said there was “no scientific basis behind the percentage distribution allocation that was being proposed other than good faith and equity.”
It is no secret that most of the revenue for ICC comes out of India. Some of the ICC members want to milk that for their benefit and at the same time marginalise India. This is probably the reason why India, despite its tremendous contribution to the development of the game, finds no place in two of the most crucial committees of the re-vamped ICC: the finance committee and the executive committee.
This was the same strategy deployed during colonial times when British looted this country: India had no power over finance and governance.
What makes it worse is that Manohar is on record saying that he will not look after Indian interests. This makes it ideal for some of the other ICC members: They can use an Indian and cut India down to size.
Under the circumstances the choice of joint secretary Amitabh Choudhary as India’s representative to the ICC Board meeting is probably best. He would know board and ICC politics, strengths and weakness better than any of the COAs.
It is possible that BCCI, through him, would invoke the clause under Members Participation Agreement (MPA) should ICC not revert to the old revenue-sharing agreement. This would lead to a withdrawal from the June ICC Champions Trophy in England.
The COA had said that they would be reluctant to pull India out of the Champions Trophy but Choudhary knows that BCCI’s interests should come first and cannot be compromised by agreeing to this new formula which, in any case, has “no scientific basis ... other than good faith and equity.”
Of course India’s neighbouring countries Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even far away countries Zimbabwe and West Indies, have been shrewdly roped in to fight against the reversal. The ICC has put them all on par with the revenue to be earned by Australia in an effort to woo them away from BCCI.
This is a devious move and is being made at a time when the BCCI is at its weakest.
The proposed changes are being made not with the intention to strengthen world cricket but to ensure that BCCI is also reduced to the lowest common denominator. Hopefully, the evil minds that dreamed up this sequence to weaken Indian cricket will be thwarted, and in time.