On a day the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board met in Singapore and passed the much-criticised ‘position paper’ that cedes most decision-making powers to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA), the Chennai strongman was confirmed to take over as chairman of ICC Board from July this year.
The hastily arranged conclave approved wide-ranging changes to the ICC structure on Saturday after eight of the 10 Test nations voted for proposals that put the ‘Big Three’ in control of the world game and most of the money.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstained from voting. South Africa and Bangladesh initially opposed the reforms, but gave in later.
Speaking to dna, Srinivasan, who is also the BCCI president, said, “This (passing of proposal) is a recognition of India’s contribution (to world cricket, financially and otherwise).” It’s common knowledge that India generates nearly 80 per cent of ICC revenues. Understandably, the BCCI will now enjoy a lion’s share.
A delighted Srinivasan went on, “The way things have come out, the ICC will be a member-driven organisation. All I can say is that it’s good for cricket. The new financial model will give stability to all Test-playing nations as well as associates and affiliates. At the same time, it will recognise (and reward) those (boards) who are contributing (to the coffers).” Brushing aside the criticism against the creation of the so-called Big Three, the cement baron said, “Opposition? Well, that was what the media was saying. Cricket South Africa was fully supportive. Two other boards (Pakistan and Sri Lanka) abstained from voting, but they did not oppose. They have understood the proposal in depth and I hope they will come on board, eventually.”
Asked how he viewed the perception in the media of the creation of an “oligarchy within democracy”, he said, “See, there is no ‘big three’ in ICC. You must remember that all decisions will be taken by the ICC Board, which comprises all full members. “Just because a representative from Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board will head the two newly formed sub-committees (Executive Committee and Finance & Commercial Affairs Committee, respectively), it doesn’t mean they decide everything. “All sub-committees have to report to the ICC Board. You need seven votes to pass each and every resolution (eight in case of constitutional matters like the just-passed revamp). These concerns are not well-founded.”
It’s true that the BCCI’s revenues have skyrocketed in the recent past. And Srinivasan has played a big role. Now that the BCCI stands to earn more, how does he plan to spend this money? “Look, the BCCI is a non-profit organisation. Our aim is to develop cricket. We want to create more infrastructure; we want to spread the game of cricket to all parts of India and we want to enable rural India to produce more players. That’s something they have already done in the recent past. It (extra income) will go into a lot of development activities, infrastructure creation, etc,” he informed.
Till about six months ago, Srinivasan was under fire for his son-in-law’s alleged involvement in the IPL spot-fixing scandal. Srinivasan’s victory in the corridors of power in ICC is, by all means, a stupendous achievement. And the shrewd billionaire, who has risen through the ranks in the BCCI set-up, has a vision. “If you ask me about my vision, I will say that I want to ensure that the primacy of Test cricket is restored. We want to have competitive cricket. We want high-performing associate teams to play at the highest level. They are already playing in the World Cup. In a nutshell, the well-being of the game is my vision,” he said.
Cricket is played by a handful of countries. But try telling that to Srinivasan and he’ll scoff at you. “Cricket is a global game even now,” he said. Will he try and get China and the US on board? “Well, I mean we have to wait for interest in cricket to develop in these countries. The ICC has tried. You can’t say cricket is not global. Cricket has to evolve in countries and we will help them.”