BCCI Should Grow Up

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I have a baby daughter who’s one and a half years old. We love her dearly but she’s a right pain in the bum when she doesn’t get her way. She screams, shouts, pouts like Posh Spice, and occasionally spits her dummy out and throws it across the room. It’s not a pleasant sight.

The BCCI’s reaction to the ICC’s new financial model – which overturns the abhorrent big three stitch up and distributes wealth more evenly – reminds me a great deal of my baby daughter when I take away a sweet she shouldn’t have had in the first place. They’re having a silly tantrum and failing to see the broader perspective.

The BCCI’s alleged threat to boycott the Champions Trophy makes Indian cricket look brattish and ridiculous. Although I should point out that they haven’t officially made any threats, how else is world cricket meant to interpret their failure to submit a provisional squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy?

Indeed, several high profile Indian cricketers (including cricketing royalty Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid) have spoken about the issue and urged the BCCI to back down. I sure Virat Kohli and his team would love to defend their trophy in England next month. However, it seems that a faction within the BCCI only cares about money and power.

It will be interesting to see how this game of brinkmanship ends. Although I suspect the BCCI will eventually come to their senses – after all, they’ll be seen as pariahs or bullies if they boycott the tournament – they’re making a dangerous political gamble in Dubai. It’s like Arab blackjack: they might push their luck too far and end up losing even more friends and influence.

In order to back out of the Champions Trophy, the BCCI would have to revoke the Members Participation Agreement. This means they wouldn’t be able to take part in (or host) any ICC tournaments until 2023. Could Indian cricket really survive such a move?

What’s more, if money talks (and we have to assume that it does) would the BCCI even want to withdraw from the wider cricketing world? After all, hosting ICC events generates massive revenues – which is why, presumably, they loved the big three stitch up so much in the first place. One of its key pillars was that big tournaments like Champions Trophies and World Cups could only ever be held in India, the UK and Australia.

Consequently, although I can’t pretend to fully understand the BCCI politics (who does?), this seems to be a gamble that India cannot win. Surely they’ve got too much to lose if they pull out of the Champions Trophy … and their political opponents (i.e. the rest of the cricketing world) surely knows this. The other counties simply need to call India’s bluff.

There’s no doubt that world cricket needs India. But India also needs the rest of the world (something the COA has pointed out). The BCCI withdrawing from ICC events, and becoming isolationist, would therefore suit absolutely nobody. Which is why I’m convinced it won’t happen.

So why then, if everyone knows the BCCI are making an empty threat, did the BCCI fail to submit India’s Champions Trophy before the deadline? There can be only one explanation: petulance. It was a defiant act by a organisation that probably knows it’s beaten.

And nobody, absolutely nobody, likes a sulker.

James Morgan

12 comments

  • If India fail to turn up, ECB should hold a competition for 11 fans to turn out to play for India instead. They could be provided with all the correct uniforms and everything.

  • Agree with all of that, James. The BCCI rattle appears to have departed the pram at speed. There’s no doubt the tournament would be poorer without India (I guess West Indies would be invited to take their place?), but the Indian team will also be poorer for not being able to defend their trophy. UK based Indian fans (many of whom have probably already bought tickets) don’t get to see their team. ICC revenues go down without Indian participation (so the BCCI gets less in the end as the cake shrinks). Someone needs to visit BCCI HQ with a baseball bat (or should that be a Chris Gayle sized cricket bat?) and beat some sense into these puffed up imbeciles.

  • In more encouraging news from India, I see Cheteshwar Pujara has signed to play 4 championship games for Notts. He’s clearly a man who takes overseas success seriously, and the best thing you can say about him and Kohli is that India don’t miss (in a playing sense) Dravid and Tendulkar. Actually, that’s probably the best thing you could say about any nos 3 and 4 batsmen.

  • I hope the BCCI don’t decide to boycott the tournament at the meeting on the 7th. If they don’t, I’d warn against as regarding this as being all over. I suspect (as this excellent article argues, http://www.wisdenindia.com/cricket-blog/the-bcci-empire-will-strike-back-and-it-wont-be-pretty/251391) that the BCCI will look to take their revenge in more subtle ways (with an extended IPL top of the list). I’d also warn against assuming that if world cricket splits, India will just play domestic cricket. The setting up of some rival ICC is a serious possibility. It could be a bit like Kerry Packer re-visited but without the safety-net that they’ll pack up if they get what they want. There are plenty of sports with rival governing bodies.

    We shouldn’t give Giles Clarke a free pass here (or ever!) either. Clarke is to blame for agreeing to the 2014 revenue deal. It’s far harder to take back money given than never to give it at all. Clarke has also looked like he’s gone out of his way to isolate and humiliate the BCCI at that recent vote. I can’t feel that’s a wise long-term strategy. If you live in a small room with an elephant with a sore-head, I wouldn’t go poking it. Clarke could have tried to win them into a consensus – and he could have done more so that the ECB shared the BCCI’s pain. Why are the ECB getting more money under this new deal than anyone but India? Shouldn’t England be getting the same as other FMs to show genuine equalitarian principles. Clarke hasn’t given up anything he genuinely cares about – like his wretched ten-team WC in 2019. It looks like all he’s done is sensed the BCCI’s weakness and exploited it to his own advantage. I’m not sure what Clarke’s long-term agenda is (at the very least, he’s desperate to become ICC Chairman after Manohar – but I suspect there’s more going on to do with driving up TV revenues and driving down the amount of Test cricket played, especially outside the Big Three).

    A weaker BCCI may be what we all want – but we may need to watch out for getting what we wish for. For example, we need to remember that it’s the BCCI who’ve been blocking a switch to four-day Tests.

      • I can see the BCCI expanding the IPL but I’m not sure this would be a good strategy for them either. The IPL already seems to go on for too long, and some players are now choosing to come and go. I can see a future where players have their cake and eat it. They’ll play some of the IPL, earn some cash, and then return home for international games. This would eventually make the IPL lose some of its symmetry.

        • I’m not saying an extended IPL would be a good idea – but India could bankroll it while it did its damage to other boards. We all know which country’s season is most vulnerable to an extended IPL!

          Players aren’t so much choosing to come and go but having to because of competing demands. If boards force players to choose international cricket or the IPL, then we’d see which they put first. We might not like some of the answers.

          All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t assume that, if India pulled out, cricket as we know it could continue. The ripple effects may well be considerable (as with the new T20 tournament). .

          • Hi Simon. I agree it would be hugely disruptive if India left. But I just don’t think it would be in their interests to do so – therefore I’m sceptical it will happen. At least I hope so!

  • Looks like there is another angle at play here too – BCCI versus their CoA “overlords”. Not only is the spoilt child fighting against its parents, it is also playing them off against its social worker too in an attempt to get more control over its own affairs.

    Sadly though, the power rests with the spoilt child. There is no getting away from the fact that they are by far and away the biggest money-spinner of all the nations and boy do they know it.

  • Interesting responses here.

    Initially I would be of a similar opinion but I do wonder if India haven’t done slightly badly out of this (although there is certainly value in some redistribution of income), so I see some shades of grey.

    I don’t have the numbers to see what they generate as a proportion of the ICC income but, assuming that they are the major contributor, what do people think is a more appropriate allocation? Is there an acceptance that they should take the lion’s share (i.e. a larger chunk than any other) or not?

    • ICC shouldn’t be handing out any more to the major test nations whatsoever. There should be flat-rate appearance fees for ICC run competitions, and decent prize money for semi-finalists upwards.

      The rest of the revenue should be spent on developing the game in associate countries.

      India are big boys, they should be able to look after themselves without coming begging to the ICC for funding.

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