THE gloves are off in the fight between the Indian cricket board and the International Cricket Council. In the latest salvo, the BCCI has threatened to withdraw the Indian team from the next year’s Champions Trophy in England after being excluded from the ICC’s finance committee meeting held a few days ago in Dubai.
The latest face-off comes on the back of a burgeoning list of complaints that the Indian board has against the ICC, which is led by former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar. The BCCI has already expressed its disappointment with the ICC’s move to revoke the Big Three revenue model, according to which India gets a major share of revenues along with Australia and England, and by the new plan for a two-tier system for Tests.
BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke termed the board’s non-inclusion in the finance committee meeting as “a humiliation”. “These are the committees where all the important decisions are taken — finance, commerce and chief executives committee; India not having a representative (in those committees) is a humiliation for us. We will tell the ICC, ‘either you amend this or we will decide what to do to protect India’s cricket interests globally’. It could be anything. We may even not play the Champions Trophy. Better sense may prevail, and we may not reach that stage at all. But there are so many options,” Shirke told The Indian Express.
Sources said that Shirke has informed the ICC that if the Indian board continues to be ignored, it will have to think on “parallel lines”.
“The problem with the ICC now is that it is acting like a dictator. Apart from the Big Three model that the ICC now wants to change, it is slowly trying to keep the BCCI at bay,” said another top BCCI official, who did not wish to be identified.”
Unfortunately, the BCCI is being deprived of a seat in the ICC finance committee. When 70 per cent of the ICC’s income comes from the BCCI, why should we not have a place in the finance committee? There’s no question of domination, but is the ICC trying to be a Robin Hood — robbing the rich and giving it to the poor?” said a BCCI office-bearer.
The latest confrontation has come on the back of BCCI’s reservations with the ICC’s decision to allocate a budget of approximately $135 million as organisational cost for the Champions Trophy scheduled to be held in the UK next June. This marks a three-fold increase from the $45 million that was allocated to the BCCI by the ICC for the World T20 held from March 8 to April 3 this year.
Sources said that the BCCI has questioned the budget for the 19-day tournament in the UK, considering that it would host only 15 matches compared to the World T20 in India which was a 27-day event with 58 games.
There is already a great deal of unpleasantness between the two governing bodies over the revenue-sharing model of the ICC, which will be come up for vote in October.
The current Big Three formula was voted in during N Srinivasan’s tenure at the ICC in 2014, and ensured that India, Australia and England got a major chunk of the pie from the world body’s gross revenue. The BCCI was also scheduled to receive 22 per cent of revenue generated by the ICC from their broadcast cycle from 2015-2023.
However, when Manohar took over as ICC chairman a few months ago, one of the first issues he spoke about was putting an end to the governance model put in place by his predecessor. He had suggested that the world body would go back to its old model, which guaranteed 15 per cent of the share to the BCCI.
During an ICC meeting in January, Manohar had proposed that the additional 7 per cent that the Srinivasan-inspired formula was set to give the BCCI be now directed back towards the ICC. This could mean a loss in excess of Rs 100 crore annually over the next nine years for the Indian board, said sources.
(BCCI president) Anurag Thakur made it clear in the recently concluded ICC meeting that the board is not going to compromise when it comes to its share of revenue. The ICC generates a majority of its revenue thanks to Indian cricket, and why should BCCI bear losses of over Rs 900 crore? Thakur has informed the ICC that the board will not change its stand,” said a BCCI official, on condition of anonymity.
However, it will not be easy for the Indian board to find support from the other full members in the ICC. The fact that Manohar’s appointment as chairman was unopposed is a clear indication that many other countries might be on the same page as him about reversing the Big Three formula.
The BCCI is also against the two-tier Test system of promotion and relegation that the ICC wants introduce to reinvigorate the longest format, while doing away with bilateral contests. The world body wants Test status for countries like Ireland, Afghanistan and Nepal, which will play in the lower rung.
We have to create a proper competition structure which provides promotion and relegation, and opportunities to get to the top,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson had said.
Sri Lanka was the first to oppose the idea, followed by Bangladesh. BCCI president Anurag Thakur has said his board wants to “protect the interests” of lower-ranked member nation. “The BCCI is against the two-tier Test system because the smaller countries will lose out, and the BCCI wants to take care of them,” Thakur had been quoted as saying in reports.