Fears that the cricket world could be headed towards a potential split in the future have sparked off an investigation by the International Cricket Council (ICC) into a number of contentious companies and website domain names that have been registered by the Essel Group of late.
That these domain names read eerily like rival national cricket boards have only alerted the ruling body even further and the issue is learnt to have been discussed during their meeting last week in Dubai. The Essel Group of course is the company that owns Ten Sports, which broadcasts matches played in West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the Middle East, and was also the force behind the Indian Cricket League (ICL) a rebel competition that briefly threatened to shake up the state of affairs.
This comes after only a year the cricket boards of India, England and Australia had usurped the pole position within the ICC and changed the status quo of the sport’s administration.
A detailed report in The Guardian, has revealed that the domain names registered by the Essel Group include worldcricketcouncil.co.in and cricketassociationofengland.co.in and that their origins have all been traced back to a Ten Sports employee-senior IT manager Deepak Srivastava.
The English daily has also reported that Cricket Australia was the first national board to be forewarned about the matter and they wasted no time in taking action by objecting to the registration of Australia Cricket Control Limited, which was floated by Essel Corporation Mauritius.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and Cricket Scotland have also taken similar stands against the establishment of companies that have risen imitating them. New Zealand Cricket Limited, Kiwi Cricket Limited and Aotearoa Cricket Limited are the ones that NZC have taken umbrage to while Cricket Scotland, The Guardian reports, have already contacted the founder of the contentious company earlier this year and even set a deadline, April 6, for a response. They are yet to hear back from them.
Despite a wide presence in the world of sports and even cricket elsewhere, the Essel Group has for long harboured aspirations to widen their impact in the Indian market, but in vain. Even the ICL only ran for three seasons between 2007 and 2009 before going defunct, and number of players who participated in the tournament had complained about not being paid.
According to The Guardian, Giles Clarke, the outgoing chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has contacted the cricket boards who have signed up with Ten Sports as their host broadcasters to explain the motives behind the registration of these companies. “The ECB is aware and the chairman briefed our board a few days ago, following an ICC board meeting last week where this matter was raised,” an ECB spokesperson was quoted as saying in The Guardian.
“We don’t know the motives behind these registrations and need to know more. In the absence of any proper explanation, there is clearly a concern for cricket and the ECB. Ten Sports are not a partner of the ECB so we’ve asked our colleagues at Boards with whom there’s a direct relationship to help in clarifying this situation with their broadcast partner. At this stage, until we know more, there’s nothing more we can add,” he added.
They have also quoted the Cricket Australia spokesman saying, “We’re certainly aware of the registration. It is a concern but the ICC has been informed and the matter is being investigated. It’s difficult to say more until we have more information.”
It was the failure of the Essel Group to secure broadcasting rights for Indian cricket that had resulted in them bringing the ICL on board. And the ICC seem concerned about the imminent threat of them sparking off another rebellion.