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Indian domination of cricket (off-field that is – we all know they can’t dominate on it!) 1 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game'), Saaray jahan se acha...?! eh?.
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The recent award of the 2011 Cricket World Cup to a joint bid from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has received some flak in the usual quarters. Australia and New Zealand had a very good bid already on the table; did an excellent job when they last staged the tournament (1992 was the best-ever World Cup – that is the general consensus the world over); and should have staged 2011 if there was any 'rotation' policy. In any case, theirs was the only bid on the table and they met all the requirements – the ICC had to bend its own rules to even accommodate the Asian bid.

However, the big bucks offered by the sub-continent proved too alluring for the ICC members and money carried the day. What does this mean for cricket administration? Are we going to see an era of Indian-dominance? Controlling and managing cricket was once the exclusive remit of the MCC in Lord's and the Imperial Cricket Conference. Have we, after decades of the 'gora sahab' lording over us natives, finally replaced one tyranny with another? Many think so, including some sensible cricket followers on this excellent cricket forum.

I beg to differ. We are not entering an era of Indian domination over cricket; all we are seeing is that in cricket, as in most other things in our 'wonderful' capitalist and money-grubbing society, money talks. The main concern, of one country riding rough-shod over the wishes of everyone else, a la the old MCC/TCCB/ICC combine, is somewhat misplaced; the current scenario is one where 'money is king', and marketing diktat rules cricket. So whatever their colour, creed or nationality, it's the sponsors and the money men who call the shots. India just happens to have more money and more sponsors than any other country, but certainly not a majority of either; hence, its decisions have to be mutually beneficial for other countries and boards too, otherwise they will not accept them. The ECB, CA, PCB, etc only play ball with India because it is in their own financial interest to do so – the moment there is a better deal on the table, all these other boards are at complete liberty to go seek it, unlike the old system where everyone had no choice, theoretical or practical, of going against the ingrained institutional racism of the MCC.

Yes, if India/BCCI had unbridled power, where they forced everyone against their will to play by their rules, it would be a concern. That is not the case, however. The President of the ICC is not Indian, he is a Pakistani; the all-powerful ICC Chief Executive has been an Aussie for a very long time indeed; there are ten members on the Elite panels of umpires – not one is an Indian; there is no Indian Match Referee; and from chucking to sponsorships, there are a whole host of issues where the Indians would feel they have been getting a very raw deal indeed. I don't really see an all-encompassing Indian influence here, malign or otherwise. All this is far cry from 30/40 years ago, when the umpires, the administrators, the decision makers, the money men, the rule makers and the arbitrators were all from a very narrow strata of English society – those guys did not even represent England, let alone represent or speak for the whole world. Hence, the current situation is not comparable. It is a democracy, where like all other capitalist democracies, self-interest rules.

The World Cup issue also proves that India is powerless to act on its own; it needed the support of other South Asian boards even to bid for this World Cup; and if you know anything about South Asian politics, you will know that supporting India does not come naturally to Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis! In fact, they would only do so when offered some very substantial incentives indeed, such as the case here. PCB supported India because this was a good, nay a very good, deal for them. India cannot make decisions to the detriment of other countries, it needs their support; the key difference is that unlike in the dim and distant past, we have a democracy now.  

I am also not sure what this concern with the "late submission" of the Asian bid is – a red herring, if ever there was one. The World Cup is in 2011, ie over six years away! That's 2,200 days (almost) – what difference does late submission by 10 or 15 or 23 days make? It is completely irrelevant. There was only one bid on the table – it may have been excellent, it may have been atrocious – surely a fair appraisal could only be made once that bid was compared to another. As long as the decision was based on the merits of the bid, I see no issue.

And as far as we know, the decision was made on the merits. It would be a concern if the poorer bid won, or if the second bid missed out many key requirements; but if the only gripe against it is that some paperwork was delayed, then I am afraid that is just bureaucratic piffle.

So is there no cause for concern? Not quite. The influence of money or TV-men or corporate marketing is certainly not wholly benign; far from it. However, this influence is global and all-pervasive, and the BCCI is almost incidental to it. I do agree though that there are certain elements in the BCCI who would like to exercise such influence over global cricket, and such elements must be resisted and ridiculed; anyone got any good Lalit Modi/BCCI jokes? :-)

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Comments»

1. Orchid - 1 May 2006

Do you seriously believe that the ICC actually sat down ticked off the list and alloted the WC to the group that had the most ticks? Something I read was that the votes went 10-3 in favour of the Asian votes. It's not hard to guess who those 3 and 10 votes are, is it?

As for India not having any umpires in the Elite panel, that's because there isn't a half decent Indian umpire available at the moment. If the best available Indian umpires are the Jayaprakash and the other gentelman (whose name I've forgotten) mention of whom even probably makes Indian fans cringe, it wouldn't be wise to just put them there! Believe me mate, if there was one, he/she would be in that panel.

2. Vijay Arumugam - 3 May 2006

The time has come for the world to accept the fact that India, aided by her enthusiastic and high spending corporate world, has virtually become the engine for the financial automobile of the world affairs of Cricket. After all money is very important to run, develop and spread cricket in the globe in this competitive world. May be the supposed traditionalists of the game at Lord’s might not enjoy to be seen as poor cousins to the supposed third world country of India. But one has to move on with time and cricket world will be better off with the copious amount of wealth generated by India.

It is one thing to be a leader of choice but it totally another thing to be a leader of force. The former will be respected while the latter will be feared for its scornful nature. Though BCCI and its leaders can pat their backs for becoming a leaders, they need to strive to become the leader of choice. For this to happen, BCCI needs to make sure the following goals and targets are met.

Indian cricket team must start to win overseas Test Series on a consistent basis.

Indian domestic cricket should be competitive and be played on good grounds with enough spectator support. Indian domestic cricket should strive to attract foreign talents from other countries. For this to happen, the planning of Indian domestic Calendar should be done with diligence so that the international players from India and abroad will be available to take part in the same.

The Indian cricket players should be allowed to have a powerful and transparent association to take care of their needs and demands.

The cricketing infrastructure in India for spectators, players, Print Media and Electronic Media has to be upgraded to world class facilities. It is one thing to have millions of dollars in bank accounts, but it is sickeningly other thing to have third class facilities in our grounds. The facilities should be extended even to the grounds used by the Junior and club cricketers too.

BCCI is doing a good job in spreading cricket to the non-Cricket playing world. But this need not be done only by playing a few games from exotic locations like Timbuktu to New Jersey. The “A” teams from leading countries can be used for this purpose and this will help achieve the goal without taxing the over stressed stars of international cricket.

If BCCI needs to get respect from its counterparts from England and Australia, they need to have a professional set up rather than the chaotic amateur set up wherein no one knows who is responsible for what. The professional set up includes a set of media specialists, a PR committee, a task force and a set of professional and accountable executives.

The BCCI needs to be more transparent in its operations. It is a crying shame that being from a country of India’s repute in IT prowess, they don’t even own a website.

BCCI should also give some importance to the history and the traditions of the great game of cricket. They should invest in preserving the great Indian records, achievements and other encomiums in the form of museums, souvenir shops and other kinds of displays across the various grounds. They can learn a thing or two from the way ECB is preserving the rich English cricket culture without missing out on any of the modern trends.

Last but not the least, money should not be only criterion for BCCI to act on any of the matters in the world of cricket.

If BCCI can achieve the aforementioned suggestions, then they might get some respect from their counterparts from England and Australia and if that happens no one can question the unequivocal leadership of BCCI in the cricketing world.

3. Abu Abdur Rahman - 4 May 2006

Vijay – some excellent comments here, as always. Your sentiments are noble, but I am not sure if the BCCI, even in its current benevolent (ie non-Dalmia) incarnation, would pay too much heed.

No one should have any qualms about acknowledging India’s financial superiority, and I would think that outside the Lord’s Long Room, few do. Indian cricket’s financial muscle is good for cricket in general, since it means there is more money for all the other cricket boards and teams. However, I completely agree that the BCCI can do a lot, lot more before it can become the leader of choice. Your examples about the lack of even a basic website and the absence of proper facilities even at some of the larger Indian stadia are very relevant – the BCCI needs to get its own house in order before it will be taken seriously and respected.

Orchid – your comment about Indian umpires actually proves one of the points I was trying to make. If India was indeed dominating the corridors of power at the ICC, and if it had the inclination and the wherewithal to subvert the ‘rules of the game’ there, it would probably have had at least two representatives on the Elite Panel of Umpires. In reality, it has nil.

The fact that all appointments are still based on merit actually means that the system is working as it should be – and fears of Indian domination are somewhat misplaced and over the top.

4. orchid - 5 May 2006

Sorry to disappoint, but my point about lack of Indian umpires in the Elite panel does not prove your point (at least that was not the intent).

The only thing it proves is that BCCI is not stupid to the point of having their (non) umpires in that panel,because if they want, they can have them installed there. But the cost (negative publicity and others) is something that they are not willing to pay right now. As I said before, if there were half decent umpires available, they would be there.

Saurav Ganguly – whining- upturned decisions….

5. Abu Abdur Rahman - 6 May 2006

You mention Ganguly Orchid – but one of the reasons India do have a reasonable case there is that he was singled out for punishment when other teams get away scot-free. England’s over rates in their tour of SA a year ago, and in various series since then have often been pathetic; how many matches has Vaughan (or Smith, or Ponting) been banned from?

In any case, the appeals process that let off Ganguly the first time was outside the remit of the ICC; the appeals judge was someone who had no connection to the ICC heirarchy, or even to cricket, by the sound of things – he judged the case purely on its legal technicalities. The second time around, he did serve a reduced ban..

How about the following quote (from Cricinfo today):

Bindra also denied former ICC president Malcolm Gray’s allegation that the subcontinent won the bid by flexing its money muscle. “It was they who had the veto, from 1909 when the ICC was formed to 1993,” Bindra said. “We have always acted like equal partners.”

Bindra said he was questioned by the ICC members at the executive board meeting in Dubai earlier this week “for half an hour” when he told them the 2011 World Cup, if held in the subcontinent, would generate USD 400 million more. “I told them that the ICC makes USD two million from a match day whereas we make USD 8.77 million, which is more than four times. The ICC sold the television rights [of 2003 WC] to India for USD 250 million and for seven-eight million USD to Australia.”

Hopefully that will set the minds of all those conspiracy theorists at rest – India did have an overwhelming advantage, and their bid was miles better than the Australians.


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