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.