How to mess up when life deals you a great hand is an art that Indian cricket administrators are intimate with. The Indian team is doing fairly well under a young captain. Despite the doubting critics, the game has managed to retain a strong fan base; India brings and rakes in the biggest moolah in international cricket; an Indian is leading the ICC, there has never been a better time for India to show statesmanship. And yet, Indian cricket finds itself mired in chaos, driven by childish boorishness, and is now threatening to derail world cricket.
India has threatened to pull out of the Champions Trophy, and its secretary talks about “parallel lines”, if it doesn’t get the lion’s share of revenue from the ICC. Indian cricket run by crony capitalists and self-serving politicians is suddenly talking about the market economy — we bring the most money, so we would take most away. All well and good, but with the Supreme Court breathing down their neck, and their reputation in tatters, it’s difficult to take these “free-market visionaries” seriously. Instead, the BCCI looks like the kid in gully cricket who brings the game to a stop — I own the solitary bat we have, so I will keep batting, else it’s all over.
The ICC, under the chairmanship of Shashank Manohar, also has to share the blame. How can the world body conduct important financial committee meetings without an Indian representative? It’s difficult to shrug off doubts about the ICC’s intent here. Has there been a single decent idea to save Test cricket, or how not to kill the golden goose of T20? The two-tier Test structure in its hazy current avatar isn’t the solution. The least these administrators could do is to sit together, thrash out their differences, look at the bigger picture, and arrive at solutions to end this deadlock. Statesmanship is a rarity in public life and to expect it from cricket administrators is a huge leap of hope, but how about some maturity for starters, please?