India is holding back world cricket – it’s time to kick them out of the ICC and start again
The BCCI is doing its best to hinder development; the world should cut India loose, create a new governing body and truly globalise the game
World cricket is a cult and India the dictatorial, megalomaniac cult leader that rules on a platform of financial fear – unsaid threats and glaring looks at those who dare question its motives. There is no subtlety about it. It goes beyond even the “some animals are more equal than others” concept that may fool the gullible of the proletariat into thinking they have a smidgen of rights.
No, when it comes to India and cricket, it’s blatant and unambiguous. India, armed with billions of dollars and more than a billion fans who are able to skew statistics in their favour, has no qualms in saying “we rule world cricket, you do as we say”.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the parent company tasked with ruling the sport within its borders while the International Cricket Council (ICC) is its subsidiary that governs the world on behalf of its masters.
This was made abundantly clear in 2014 when an ICC revamp effectively handed India control of world cricket – and paid them more than anyone else for the privilege – and as recently as May when ICC chief David Richardson was forced to grovel to a bristling India after it dared to publish a SWOT report that concluded what everybody else already knew: that the ICC’s “heavy dependence on revenues and fans from India” highlighted a potential “weakness” within the world body’s ruling mechanisms.
Four years ago, India and wannabe fellow leaders England and Australia forced a reconstruction of the ICC in which the BCCI was given a central leadership role and more money. The ICC’s eight-year cycle running from 2015 to 2023 for televisions rights was expected to generate up to US$3 billion in revenue of which US$2.1 billion would be provided by Indian fans.
India would receive up to US$650 million of that in addition to the US$70 million surplus paid to each full member of the ICC, of which they are 12. The English Cricket Board would receive up to US$141 million and Cricket Australia up to US$87 million. And the rest are left to scramble for handouts.
So how does India make use of its power? By doing its best to ensure cricket in the country thrives while stifling development elsewhere.
The multibillion-dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) attracts the best players from India and the world. Yet, the BCCI refuses to allow Indian players to take part in other international T20 tournaments, presumably because it doesn’t want these events to outgrow the IPL.
India also refuses to play day-night test matches, even though this format is a positive initiative that may save the future of tests as audiences drift towards T20 cricket.
The inclusion of T20 cricket in the Olympics is seen as the best way to take the game to all corners of the world. But there’s a problem. You guessed it … India. The BCCI, to field an Olympic team, must come under the aegis of the India Olympic Association and there’s no chance of that happening.
A successful Olympic tournament may also dilute the importance of the ICC T20 World Cup, which may threaten revenues, most of which go to … the BCCI.
And now the ultimate conspiracy theory. A former ICC official recently said: “There cannot be global development of cricket without China.” And the unproven but easy to believe narrative is that India is doing its best to ensure cricket does not grow in China. The last thing they want is another potential billion-people market – even if such a concept is decades down the road – muscling in on revenues.
And then there is the reduction of the ICC 50-over World Cup to just 10 countries because India doesn’t like lesser teams beating them in early rounds and robbing the latter stages of the tournament of hundreds of millions of television viewers.
The solution is simple. Kick India out of world cricket. The other countries should sacrifice the huge revenues, for now, to start from scratch and create a new world body that truly serves not only the 11 remaining test countries but makes sincere endeavours to grow the sport wherever they can.
Don’t worry about India. They’ll be fine. Indians in India and around the world want to see Indians. They have their billion-dollar IPL, they have Indians playing Indians in domestic competition, they will continue to draw fans to stadiums and in front of the television and will continue to make money.
The world, however, doesn’t really need Virat Kohli, legendary batsman though he is. There is more urgency for second-tier members such as Scotland, Nepal, Netherlands and even Hong Kong to be playing regularly against top teams than for Kohli to be seen flaying opposing bowlers.
The need for cricket to be developed in China and gain Olympic recognition is hugely more important than anything Indian cricket has to offer – for the spirit of the game, if not for the money. But then the spirit died four years ago when the ICC became Cricket India Inc. The Board of Control is truly an apt title.