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BCCI flexes its muscles again
by Gulu Ezekiel
Oct 20, 2006
The BCCI is playing a dangerous and ultimately pointless game of brinkmanship with the ICC as it bids to capture the global telecast rights for all major tournaments till 2015.

The ICC meetings in Mumbai on Sunday and Monday will decide whether they become the sole power player in world cricket.

The enormous amount of money that has flowed into their coffers has made the BCCI drunk with power. It feels the rest of the cricket world must now dance to its tune and that it can—if worst comes to worst—break away from the world body and take the Asian nations (and perhaps one or two others) with it. That would be suicidal for the world of cricket.

The ICC constitution stipulates that only an established media house is qualified to bid for the hugely lucrative TV rights. But the Indian board with its enormous financial clout believes it is in a position to overturn the very constitution of which is has been part and parcel.

Behind all this pent up anger is the way the BCCI perceives the Champions Trophy—run entirely by the ICC—has been thrust on it due to the previous Dalmiya regime agreeing to host it.

Treasurer Lalit Modi has become the sounding board for all complaints against the world body and ever since the tournament opened earlier this month he has been sounding off.

It is indeed strange that Board president Sharad Pawar is keeping mum as he publicly buried the hatchet with the ICC regarding the conditions of hosting the tournament in New Delhi back in April.

Now Modi and others are bitterly voicing their objections and the main one is that the ICC has taken the power out of their hands as they are running the show.

Journalists around the country heaved a sigh of relief when they were informed a few months ago that the ICC and not the BCCI would be handling all media accreditations.

For years now local staging associations in India have been making life miserable for journalists on the eve of international matches, forcing them to run pillar to post, all for that precious piece of plastic lamination.

Somebody needs to tell the Board that power without responsibility is a recipe for anarchy. While millions of dollars—there is now even talk of hitting the billion-dollar mark—have flowed into their coffers, can any official in the BCCI honestly claim they have improved the infrastructure for cricket in India? Spectators are still treated like cattle in Indian stadia where facilities would put the poorest nations to shame. And yet all we have been hearing from Modi and co. is the power, money and clout that Indian cricket wields.

For sure for years the ICC was treated like a plaything of England and Australia who retained veto power till 1993. It is all very well for the Asian bloc to now pay them back in their own coin. But does all this point-scoring actually benefit world or Indian cricket?

Next month the BCCI will have a grand ground-breaking ceremony in Mumbai as it finally inaugurates a full fledged office—after 77 years of existence! It still does not have a proper e-mail address, website or full time media manager. And the Indian team still languishes somewhere in the middle of the Test and ODI rankings.

So where is all that money being earned being poured into? Is it still stuck in the BCCI’s bank accounts, locked up in fixed deposits as it has done for decades?

These are questions the Indian cricket establishment has to answer before it continues to flex its muscles like a bully.

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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