'Control' freak? Time for the BCCI to show some humility

If the SLC T20 tournament is official enough for Australia, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, New Zealand and South Africa, why not for India?

hidden June 25, 2011 16:23:30 IST
'Control' freak? Time for the BCCI to show some humility

By Richard Sydenham

It’s no coincidence that the Indian board is the only cricket ruling body in the sub-continent which has opted not to remove the ‘control’ word from its name.

Whereas Pakistan and Sri Lanka have removed ‘control’ from their title, the Board clearly is reluctant to relinquish the power word in the Board of Control for Cricket in India. In fact, if it does change the name, it might as well become the Board of Control for Cricket in the World.

The BCCI’s latest bully boy tactic of disallowing its players from featuring in the Sri Lanka Premier League – contrary to what they initially agreed to – is another example of a ruling body that has grown used to doing what it wants and getting its own way, whether justifiably so or not.

Twelve Indian players were due to appear in Sri Lanka Cricket’s foray into a more revolutionary, commercially exploitative Twenty20 from July 19 to August 4. But the BCCI ruled this week they can no longer release their players because of SLC’s partnership with a privately-owned company Somerset Entertainment Ventures, Sri Lanka’s marketing partner for the tournament, contrary to what they have been assured by Sri Lanka Cricket.

Control freak Time for the BCCI to show some humility

A policeman walks past the logo of the BCCI in Mumbai. Reuters

If the tournament is official enough for Australia, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, New Zealand and South Africa, why not for India? Is the BCCI effectively suggesting that the other countries are endorsing the next ICL?

How is SLC’s model any different to when the then BCCI supremo Lalit Modi partnered with International Management Group (IMG) to launch and subsequently profit from the Indian Premier League? The answer is, very little. So, this, of course, shows a display of double standards from the BCCI.

Another aspect to this sorry episode is that the BCCI had allegedly sent a letter to SLC inviting them to send the winner of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) to the Champions League later in the year. Therefore, they were happy enough with the ownership and format of the event. Then, so what has changed?

It is disappointing that the BCCI should look upon SLC’s T20 as the next Indian Cricket League, which was a genuine breakaway tournament from the game’s official establishment.

It is also shocking that it should pick a fight on Sri Lanka, which has usually backed India as part of the Asian bloc when there have been bigger spats around the International Cricket Council’s executive table. These times are changing.

Word on the street is that Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board are not the bosom buddies they once were. Obviously, they have to be friendly as the Ashes is worth so much to one another. But it seems that since the ECB opted against a share of ownership in the Champions League, Australia and India have grown closer. So, maybe, this is why the BCCI is less bothered by upsetting little Sri Lanka.

The bottomline is that no matter how powerful the school bully becomes, one day it usually gets its comeuppance because it becomes disliked to such an extent that people cannot wait for its demise. What is to stop Sri Lanka Cricket from blocking Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lasith Malinga and Co from playing in the IPL next year because of its links to IMG? All the other major nations could do the same. They won’t, but they could, if they used the BCCI’s principles from its dealing with the SLPL.

The BCCI has the most money, the most marketable cricket and has the most power in the world game, much more than the ICC in fact because their decisions -- when they actually make some -- are taken by a committee and the BCCI influences that committee through its financial muscle and what it can do for certain nations in terms of television rights from tours.

Maybe, this sounds naïve and innocent, but wouldn’t it be comforting and reassuring for the BCCI to show some humility, generosity and instead of sticking its chest out and pushing weaker nations to the floor, like with the SLPL, to encourage, nurture and help make cricket a healthier and wealthier game everywhere.

 

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