What India giveth, BCCI takes away
Former English captain and commentator Tony Greig, delivering the MCC’s ‘Spirit of Cricket’ Cowdrey Lecture at the Lord’s, slammed India for all the ills – well, most of – ailing the Gentleman’s Game. India’s money muscle helps cricket, but it’s holding world cricket hostage, he said, accusing India of sacrificing the spirit of the game for the glamour of IPL. Excerpts:
Mr President, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen …
At the risk of over simplifying things, the major problems facing cricket at the moment are: the decline in the image of cricket; ICC’s control; the international calendar and the mix of different types of cricket; gambling; the Decision Review System; governance; unequal resources; and the possibility of India cherrypicking the Woolf Report to increase its power.
Fortunately, I think most of the problems can generally be addressed if India invokes and adheres to the spirit of cricket. Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” As cricket certainly resides in the hearts and souls of Indian people, I am optimistic India will lead cricket by acting in the best interests of all countries rather than just for India.
World cricket would be in a sorry state if it weren’t for the money shared with other countries from India’s television deals. You can imagine the indebtedness to India of those cricket boards, which are able to negotiate a tour with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to their country. It generates a spike in the host country’s revenue that they will not see until India chooses to come again.
World cricket would also struggle if India didn’t have such sophisticated administrators as it does. More recently, India has found a way to involve its wealthiest entrepreneurs and Bollywood stars through the ownership of its IPL teams.
BREATHING DOWN ICC NECK
Currently, there are 10 full members of the ICC and the constitution requires the approval of 70%, or seven members, to advance any motion, which means 40%, or four members, can block any motion.
Much of the game is controlled by the BCCI because it controls enough votes to block any proposal put forward at the ICC board meetings. The reason for this is some countries would not survive without the financial opportunities India provides.
As a result of the dependence on India, the process adopted by the ICC is simply not working.
THE CRICKET BULLY
India’s apparent indifference towards Test cricket and its response towards some of the key issues – the international calendar and the mix of the different types of cricket; its attitude to the earlier ICC corruption inquiries; its indifference to the urgency to introduce anti-doping rules; the rumoured corruption hanging over the IPL; its attitude to the Decision Review System; and its role in the lack of due process in stopping former Australian Prime Minister John Howard being appointed vice-president of the ICC – are all examples of disappointing decisions.
Unfortunately, India is preoccupied with money and Twenty/20 cricket, and sees its IPL and Champions League as more important than a proper international calendar. To compound the problems, India has not only sold part of the game to private interests but some of her administrators are seen to have a conflict of interest, which makes it more difficult to act in the spirit of the game.
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