The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Bo­ria Majumdar

There has been much talk of late about the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia’s (BCCI) grow­ing op­po­si­tion to the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC). Rather to the ICC’s pro­posal to re­verse the Big Three for­mula — the ar­range­ment that lets In­dia, Aus­tralia and Eng­land bag the ma­jor­ity of fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits from the ICC.

The op­po­si­tion is premised on the fact that In­dia will lose about Rs 2,000 crore as a re­sult of the re­ver­sal in the next few years. The for­mula, mooted and adopted in 2014 un­der the chair­man­ship of N Srini­vasan, had given In­dia the largest share of the ICC’s rev­enues with Eng­land and Aus­tralia also get­ting sub­stan­tial por­tions of the largesse. About the other 102 mem­bers of the ICC, how­ever, the less said the bet­ter.

The cur­rent pro­posal, which has now been ac­cepted by the ICC Board ‘in prin­ci­ple’, with only In­dia and Sri Lanka vot­ing against it, Chair­man Shashank Manohar feels is an “im­por­tant step for­ward for the fu­ture of the ICC and cricket around the world”. A re­vised con­sti­tu­tion and fi­nan­cial model were ac­cepted by the ICC Board and now “we will work col­lec­tively to re­fine the de­tail for fi­nal sign-off in April.” Manohar went on to sug­gest that the “broader prin­ci­ples” that have been agreed upon in­clude a re­vised fi­nan­cial dis­tri­bu­tion en­sur­ing a more eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of rev­enues; a re­vised con­sti­tu­tion to re­flect good gov­er­nance, ex­pand­ing and clar­i­fy­ing of the roles and ob­jec­tives of the ICC to pro­vide leadership in in­ter­na­tional cricket.

First things first. Even un­der the new fi­nan­cial struc­ture, In­dia’s share of rev­enues will still be up by a few thou­sand crores com­pared to the ear­lier model. And in­ter­est­ingly, both Eng­land and Aus­tralia have voted in favour of the re­ver­sal. So the real ques­tion is: How much money is enough for the BCCI to run In­dian cricket smoothly? Rather, should In­dia be more so­cially re­spon­si­ble and work on im­prov­ing the game’s health in the 100-plus coun­tries that are ICC mem­bers? Is it not right for the BCCI, the world’s rich­est cricket board, to be more ac­com­mo­dat­ing and look at the game’s long-term ben­e­fits?

Yes, the state as­so­ci­a­tions will have less money to waste. Go­ing by the Deloitte re­port on the work­ings of State As­so­ci­a­tions un­der the BCCI — which for the long­est time was not made pub­lic — mone­tary mis­man­age­ment is a norm in most State As­so­ci­a­tions. With the IPL tele­cast ten­der ex­pected to gen­er­ate a whop­ping $2.5 bil­lion in the next few months, there is no doubt the BCCI is in ro­bust fi­nan­cial health. In such a sit­u­a­tion, what dif­fer­ence will the ad­di­tional money make?

Rather, a cur­sory look at the state of world cricket and it is ev­i­dent that the sport is strug­gling. West Indies, for ex­am­ple, is in com­plete fi­nan­cial dis­ar­ray. Per­sis­tent fights be­tween play­ers and the West Indies Cricket Board has started to eat into the foun­da­tions of Caribbean cricket. Even the vic­tory in the 2016 T-20 World Cup has not done much to stem the tide.

Pak­istan con­tin­ues to strug­gle as a re­sult of the preva­lent po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in the coun­try. New Zealand and South Africa, too, are strug­gling. Which leaves only Eng­land and Aus­tralia in rea­son­able fi­nan­cial health. Do we need cricket to be a car­tel played by three coun­tries in the next two decades? Will that serve any pur­pose when the sport aims to be a global one? What about coun­tries like Afghanistan, Ire­land, Kenya, Canada and Zim­babwe? Each of these coun­tries were once tipped to make the leap to the big stage but are now strug­gling in the ab­sence of ad­e­quate funds. Is it not im­por­tant for the BCCI to en­sure that each of them come up to the top league at the end of the next eight-year cy­cle end­ing in 2023? One BCCI mem­ber, speak­ing off the record, has sug­gested that In­dia is still hope­ful of de­rail­ing the whole process when it is put to vote in April. All they need, he says, is three more votes. Un­less the mo­tion is sup­ported by a two-thirds ma­jor­ity, it can’t go through. The BCCI re­mains con­fi­dent it can garner nec­es­sary sup­port in the next two months.

The rea­son as­signed is clas­sic BCCI: that In­dia will play a cou­ple more bi­lat­eral se­ries with a strug­gling mem­ber, which will gen­er­ate enough money for them to change their stance. Can we in­ter­pret this as a sort of bribe?

Vi­rat Kohli is al­legedly un­will­ing to en­dorse brands he can no longer iden­tify with. He has de­cided to let his con­science do the talk­ing, know­ing full well that he will lose crores in the bar­gain. Learn, BCCI.

Do we need cricket to be a car­tel played by three coun­tries in the next two decades?

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