Let’s assume the International Cricket Council makes a profit of $100 every year. According to the formula in place, 75 per cent of this money is distributed equally among the 10 Test-playing nations. The remaining 25 per cent — read $25 — goes to the have-nots like Ireland, Afghanistan, The Netherlands and 93 other member nations. India, England and Australia will get a lion’s share of this $100, with India poised to gobble up the king’s quota. It’s going to be a clear case of ‘The Big Three vs ‘The Other Seven’. God save the rest.
It’s been about four days since the ICC’s proposed ‘position paper’ was leaked to a bunch of journalists. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia have decided to form a cartel, one that will redefine the way the game is administered.
To quote Andy Wilson, who writes for The Guardian, “For a long time the cry has been “something must be done!” Now, at last, it is. And the cry has become ‘they must be stopped!’ It is a rash mind that rushes to sign a petition to scrap the plans before they have even been explained, let alone discussed or implemented.”
Harsha Bhogle couldn’t have put it better. In his weekly column for a national daily, the popular commentator writes, “Cricket needs a powerful commercial base, and rigorous money management. But the end objective has to be inclusion and, dare I say, benevolence. This (position) paper focuses on the first and shuts out the second.”
If the proposed structural upheaval does take place, cricket will be run by a ‘Super Club’. The triumvirate will rule the game forever. And nobody will be able to question because they will fill up all the key committees with their men and empower them with the right to veto any proposal.
The BCCI generates nearly 80 per cent of the ICC’s revenues and deserves a larger slice of the pie, but its decision to join hands with two other powerful boards reeks of naked greed. According to the proposed draft, the passing of which will require the consent of at least seven out of the 10 Full Members, the ICC will form a new executive committee. This ExCo will provide permanent memberships for the Big Three. Also, cricket will be played on a two-tier basis, with eight countries playing Test cricket and the rest fighting for the Intercontinental Cup. Every year, two teams will be relegated to Tier 2 and a similar number promoted to Tier 1. Quite shockingly, India, Australia and England will not be subject to this process. What’s more, the ICC will not prepare an eight-year Future Tours Programme any more.
From now on, every country decides against whom and where it wants to play. Key positions in the global body — ICC chairman, ExCo chairman, etc — will be nominated by the Big Three. The World Test Championship, a financially unviable tournament, will make way for the ICC Champions Trophy.
It is understood that New Zealand, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe are likely to side with the Big Three for their own good. Cricket South Africa, a vocal critic of the draft, is the biggest loser.
The draft looks set to be passed. It’s hard to fathom that India is joining hands with the every colonial powers that once ignored it. We stand to lose our friends, and credibility.