|The bark and bite of India are not without reason!|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Jan 28, 2006|
Is the cricket world heading for a split due to the
increasingly aggressive statements put out by the
BCCI? Or is all this an elaborate game of bluff in
order to extract greater concessions?
Ever since the new dispensation took over the running
of cricket in India late last year it has begun to
assert itself on the world stage. But the headlines
warning of a split are in my opinion somewhat
It should be obvious that like the saying 'a new broom
sweeps clean', the new office-bearers of the Board too
are keen to assert themselves early on so that they
can be placed in an advantageous bargaining position.
On the one hand we have the ridiculous comments ("who is now master and who is servant") from
former England captain Michael Atherton which reek of
imperialism of a bygone era when England and Australia
ruled the cricket world and all other nations were
subservient to them.
(In his column for the Sunday Telegraph, Atherton branded India 'the big beast of cricket' while adding that other countries are 'frightened of both their bark and bite'.)
On the other you have some offending statements coming
out of the BCCI which are grossly unfair and
derogatory to a new Test-playing nation that is still
trying to find its feet.
One should remember that it took India 20 years to
register its first Test victory and that took against
a sub-standard MCC (England) side on our own soil. And
to this day our record outside of Asia remains pretty
In fact it was not till India stunningly won the
Prudential World Cup in 1983 that the rest of the
world began to sit up and take notice of Indian
cricket. Then the financial windfall generated by the
1996 Wills World Cup staged by the sub-continent
cemented India's position as the leader of the global
The last 10 years has seen that position solidify to
the extent that over 60% of the cricket world's
revenue emanates from India and Indians. The millions
of Indians living abroad who fervently support the
national team have also played a big part in this
In that regard the BCCI has certainly played its cards
right in individually approaching the boards of
England, Australia and Pakistan and proposing an
increasing frequency of reciprocal tours, throwing the
ICC's FTP (Future Tour Programme) into apparent
It is plain to see that the ICC is stuck in a sort of
time-warp in that it feels every cricket board should
plan their own tours around the Ashes series between
England and Australia which continues to be held every
Last year's Ashes in England was a grand success. But
in terms of revenue it is a drop in the ocean in the
face of an India v Pakistan encounter which is the
real money spinner in international cricket today.
Those who turn their noses up at international sport
and business being inextricably linked are simply
living in the past.
The Board also has a point in stating the Champions
Trophy is way past its sell-by date. It should be
scrapped just as the bogus Super Series has died a
quick death after the dire experiment in Australia
late last year.
Even though the ICC has made its counter-claim that
six nations have offered to host the tournament in
2008, the dates certainly are an irritant to India.
The ICC cannot ignore India's massive financial clout.
And the BCCI cannot ignore ICC's status as the parent
body of cricket. Negotiation rather than confrontation
should be the key-word. The only alternative is chaos.