Today and Wednesday may see some of the biggest developments to hit the world of cricket in recent times, with the International Cricket Council (ICC) set to discuss the new proposal put forward by a troika to control the governance and decision making power of the council.
With the Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) set to launch what appears to be nothing other than a glossy hijack bid, we should all be outraged that such a proposal is even being considered, let alone having the merits openly discussed. What has led to such an alarming proposition may not surprise those that have followed the politics and relations of the ICC for the past few years; however the subterfuge surrounding its conception and inclusion of both the ECB and CA certainly should.
It is alleged that the draft proposal had been put forward as a result of India’s threat to withdraw from major global events unless a radical overhaul of the current system was put into place. Given India’s contribution to the finances of the ICC are thought to be in excess of 80%, it is understandable that a minor panic had ensued at council level. For years, many have said that something must be done about the state of the current model of governance; corruption, financial incompetence and politics allegedly play a part in the ongoing running of the ICC. Several nations, including current world number one South Africa, readily admit that their programs are kept afloat by the flush of funds an Indian tour delivers them; but should this allow the subcontinent to effectively dictate affairs moving forward?
The BCCI attempting to influence power and control over world cricket isn’t a new concept, nor really is it a surprise; however the collusion of both CA and the ECB should be.
The proposal effectively outlines that all ICC events will be held in one of the three nations between the years 2015 and 2023. In addition to the revenue generated from hosting rights, the trio will receive an influx of cash that, on current projections of an increase in overall revenue of $1.25 billion, amounts to around a total distribution of income increase of around $770 million.
Further, the proposal sets to implement what is effectively a two tier test nation structure – one where the three nations are immune from relegation, regardless of their on-field successes.
The draft proposal is not an answer to the BCCI’s demand – the proposal IS the BCCI’s demand. It is essentially blackmail – and both CA and the ECB have merely ridden on the coat-tails of a heavily weighted ultimatum to satisfy their own selfish agendas.
The two nations, had they joined together, could have put an abrupt halt to the BCCI’s greedy grab for more power and cash. Instead, they have chosen to turn their backs on seven full members of the ICC, along with associates, affiliates and their own fan base, so that they may line their own nests with fistfuls of cash, power and ultimately guarantee their own immortality per se in the test arena.
Nations such as the West Indies, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Pakistan, nations that rely on the cash injected by the ICC – however minimal – are financially left with little choice but to begrudgingly agree with the proposal to protect their own existences. CA and the ECB however, are in very different situations.
CA currently have almost 20 sponsorship partners and in 2013 signed a broadcast deal with the Nine Network to the tune of $500 million. The ECB negotiated a deal with Sky Sport of approximately £280 million ending in 2016. The additional ICC cash is hardly a requirement for either of their survivals. Unfortunately, many of the other seven full members and most of the affiliates and associates aren’t so lucky.
Many were concerned that if the BCCI withdrew from the ICC, the Council would no longer be viable and collapse under the strain of incompetence, corruption and a dried up bank account. Yet if the ICC as a group allow for the draft proposal to be passed, they go against their own motto. “Great Sport, Great Spirit” is hardly reflected in the draft proposal if it means that affiliate and associate members stand to lose in excess of $310 million.
It’s time for the ICC to focus on what their ultimate goals are: growth and development of the game internationally, or an elitist competition where only the financially viable can survive.
If you die trying to achieve something important, then you have both honour and courage. At the moment, the ICC, CA nor the ECB have either.
Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the USA, once said,
“When the laws undertake to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society have a right to complain of the injustice to their government.”
That’s what needs to happen. Not just the nations that will suffer immeasurably as a result of this proposal, but the fans of cricket in India, England and Australia who wish to see other nations on their home soil, who want to stand up for not only the development of cricket globally but for the development of their own nations. It is only by playing the best that one can become the best.
Australian and English cricket fans must also call into account their own boards who have readily pointed fingers at the BCCI in the past as being part of the problem and not the solution, yet are now seemingly happy to form an alliance which has the susceptibility to turn into a cancer on the game.
After all, when the initial faux outrage becomes apparent that it is actually sleeping with the enemy, it is only the wider public that will invariably miss out.
Effectively, all this proposal is doing to cricketing nations outside of the “Big Three” and cricket fans around the world is formalising a regime of bullying. Given the BCCI’s propensity for same over the years, it really shouldn’t be a surprise.
It can be stopped. The greater public do have a voice – with their voices and ultimately, their wallets. Let the boards know that their proposal is completely shameful, ludicrous and in direct opposition to the very substance on which the ICC purports to exist.
However, a quick note should also be issued to the BCCI, CA and ECB; three nations have previously bandied together in an attempt to take over the world before – Germany, Italy and Japan. History shows that, despite being successful in their initial takeovers, the three leaders went down in inglorious disgrace, leading to shameful ends for those involved.
If you’re happy for that to be your combined legacies, then best of luck to you.