Is India's BCCI planning a cricket coup with the ICC?
As old colleagues renew acquaintances at the current cricket board moot at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Dubai, they will share uneasy stares – the big elephant in the room is nothing short of a flashback to the colonial days, where might was right.
The ‘Big Three’ – India, Australia and England – based on their financial muscle and certainly not on merit, will table a proposal to take over the reins of the cricket world.
I should point out that the word ‘proposal’ is only a misnomer. This document, in substance, is an ultimatum and shall be treated as one.
The gist of this document is that the ‘Big Three’ will receive the lion’s share of the ICC revenues once the revamping of the governance structure at the ICC is complete. Also, bilateral agreements would replace the FTP (Future Tours Programme), which would essentially mean that the ‘Big Three’ could; very possibly, decide to play only with each other in the future, if they wanted to.
They will not and shall not be compelled to play with the teams they consider unworthy of playing with.
India is the biggest market in terms of cricket viewership. The team brings enormous income in broadcasting rights and advertising. One can argue that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shall receive a larger portion of the ICC’s revenues. It would make sense to require more assistance from the ICC to set up and maintain facilities for so large a populous.
However, revenues generated by the ICC in matches involving India aren’t necessarily only for the BCCI to keep. Without an opponent or a competitive platform provided by the ICC, the same revenues may not be generated. Therefore, one thing is pretty clear. If the ICC can’t function without India, Indian cricket might not do very well without the ICC either.
So far, the boards of at least three major cricketing nations – Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka – have openly come out with strong reservations about the plan. They seem to have the most to lose for being the best performing team in the world. So far, with the ICC showing consent to the ‘Big Three’s’ proposal, things don’t look too good for the Proteas.
The sad reality is that other struggling cricket boards, like pilot fish, will tow the sharks’ line in the hope of catching some leftovers. They are presented with a Catch-22. If they voice their rights to promote the sport in smaller markets, they will most definitely invite India’s ire. However, if they don’t oppose the plan they will eventually suffer the consequences.
So basically, either way they are doomed.
As rightly pointed out by its former president, Ehsan Mani, the ICC should focus on fixing the council’s governance structure. It should insist on ruling out politics from the game. Instead of following the ‘rich-getting-richer-model’, it should take a leaf out of FIFA’s book and promote the sport in relatively smaller markets like China and the US. Not only will this help in generating revenues, it will also help in breaking the political ice between cricket boards, which has been freezing the council’s affairs over the past few weeks.
The ICC should carefully look at this proposal and ensure that it leaves no room for another ‘Big Three’ situation in the future.
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