Such has been the fervour of the ‘it’s not cricket’ outcries around the cricket world over the last few days that you would have thought that the BCCI, CA and ECB were plotting a Tripartite Pact before the big War. And not just a proposal that would bestow them with what they always thought was theirs fundamentally; a lion’s share of crickets’ dividends. You were living in a fool’s paradise if the realization hadn’t hit home yet that it was these three ruling the roost anyway.
The balance of commerce for one has remained skewed for way too long. Something just had to give. The big three’s decision to make a bid for usurping complete control of the sport if anything was inevitable. Some might even say an attempt to repair the financial discrepancy was a long time coming.
It’s sad but true that unlike most other global sports, especially football and the Olympic sports, cricket’s governing body has failed to stretch the sport’s boundaries beyond its long-lasting horizons. The expansion drives have only looked good on paper. Rather than spreading, the reality is that the scope of cricket has only shrunk in the last decade or so. Up until the late 1990s, the sport remained overall a level playing field both on and off the field. Not anymore though.
The standards of the Test teams from West Indies and New Zealand have dipped greatly over the last 15 years. Sri Lanka and Pakistan too have stagnated to an extent. Off the field, their respective boards haven’t been able to keep up with the growing economic muscle of the BCCI or the enduring strength of the ECB or CA. Hosting Test matches is fast becoming an unaffordable proposition for most. It’s unviable almost if the opposition is not India.
If the BCCI has its financial clout along with the unrelenting and buttressing support of a billion-plus strong fan base, England and Australia have the Ashes and more importantly a well-entrenched and sturdy administrative structure back home.
The tipping of the scales, as suggested by the ‘position paper’, seems in a way preordained, even if some might look at the BCCI, CA and ECB with the same dread as if they were the cricket world’s Axis of Evil.
Bharat is a principal correspondent based in Mumbai