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Greater glory of the game? Not quite.
by Suresh Menon
Jul 08, 2008
Cherchez la femme, cry the French when a crime is committed: look for the woman. Perhaps in the context of the International Cricket Council, it is more appropriate to use the phrase made famous by the journalists' source 'Deep Throat' in All the President's Men: Follow the money. The ICC might have called it a win-win situation at the end of their executive meeting in Dubai which saw a) Zimbabwe keep their place at the high table b) the result of a two-year old Test match being changed from a loss to Pakistan to a draw c) England breathe a sigh of relief after Zimbabwe pulled out of their 2009 World Cup "in the greater interests of the game" d) Zimbabwe talk about their friend India comes to their rescue with a bilateral series.

Each of these - and many more compromises that will emerge as we go along - equals a pound of flesh. Extracted with a purpose that has nothing to do with the greater glory of the game. It is difficult to decide which is the most laughable of the compromises. Perhaps Zimbabwe's claim, after swallowing millions of dollars from the ICC, and bringing the game to a standstill in that country. The essayist Emerson put it succinctly: The louder he spoke about his honesty, the faster we counted the spoons. The game, whose interests Zimbabwe is concerned about is not cricket, but a more profitable one of how to make millions without lifting a finger. The ICC, despite documentary evidence of financial fiddling by Zimbabwe Cricket chooses to pretend all is well there. And to show their happiness at this state of affairs by giving them more millions.

India played the key role in these compromises, and one shudders to think what the other countries have signed away. Perhaps this means that the ICL players in England will not find a place in IPL's Champions League to be played in India.. But that's a small prize.

When did the ICC, the melting pot of world cricket, with men who saw the big picture and thought globally, become a salad bowl of independent, individualistic people whose interests began and ended with their wallets and whose vision did not extend beyond their noses?

The English media have seen the outcome of the meeting as a victory for British pragmatism. Now nothing can ruin their Twenty20 World Cup. Pakistan have had a hated result overturned - the fact remains, however, that they refused to take the field and the umpire awarded the match to their opponents England.

Now that India have enough votes, perhaps they can get the ICC to change the result to the match at Lord's in 1974 where they were all out for 42, or indeed the final outcome of the series itself which they lost 0-3. Or, they could decide to change the result of the Asia Cup final where one old bugbear, Jayasuriya, and one new problem, Mendis, took the match away from India. India have lost 18 of the last 22 finals they have played.

But what is worrying is captain M S Dhoni's admission that his team was not aware of the kind of bowler Ajantha Mendis was. This is shocking. What was the coach and support staff doing? Why were no videos made available to the players? Did anyone take the trouble of watching the bowler in any of the other matches?

Or is the arrogance of their administrators percolating down to the players, and everybody thinks that merely turning up at the venue is a guarantee of success. Whether off-field in Dubai or on-field in Karachi?
 
More Views by Suresh Menon
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