The International Cricket Council (ICC) press release issued on Monday stated that “eight Men’s events, eight Women’s events, four Men’s U-19 events and four Women’s U-19 events” could be on the anvil for the next eight-year cycle from 2023-2031. The game’s global body wants to have one ICC event (men and women) every year. Plans are afoot to make the World T20 a biennial affair instead of organising it every four years. The ICC Board, which has already discussed the proposal, also wants to incorporate two extra 50-over tournaments, with top six teams, apart from holding two 50-over World Cups.
On the face of it, the ICC wants to offer a cricket bonanza for its global audience, but between the lines, the move apparently aims at reducing the BCCI’s influence even more by hitting the Indian board’s revenue stream. For the ongoing cycle, 2015-2023, both the BCCI and the ICC have the same official broadcaster, Star Sports, for their home series and global events respectively. The ICC seems to be planning to reap bigger broadcasting rewards by creating a conflict for the next cycle, weakening the BCCI in the process.
Last year, the BCCI sold its worldwide TV and digital rights to Star India for $944 million for the period 2018-2023. A year previously, Star India had bagged the IPL rights for $2.55 billion for the period 2018-2022. In 2014, the ICC had sold its global rights to Star for $1.98 billion for the period 2015-2023. Now, a World T20 in every two years in the next cycle will mean a direct clash with the IPL and given that a world event will attract a bigger global audience, the ICC will trump the BCCI, in terms of broadcasting revenue. Two extra 50-over events apart from the World Cups could seriously compromise India’s home international season (bilateral series) – September-October to November-December and February-March. And it will have a negative effect on the BCCI’s revenue from broadcast rights.
Ever since Shashank Manohar became the independent ICC chairman in 2016, his policies have proven to be detrimental to Indian cricket. The BCCI contributes to over 70 per cent of the ICC’s revenue. And yet, its projected revenue share has been reduced from $440 million – which could even rise to $570 million – to $293 million for the ongoing eight-year cycle on the pretext of a more equitable revenue distribution system.
After N Srinivasan’s departure, India’s representation at the ICC became lightweight and the global body, under Manohar, took the advantage. But now with Sourav Ganguly set to take charge, the BCCI is expected to regain its might. Ganguly and Manohar had been on the warpath in 2004, when the latter, then Vidarbha Cricket Association president, had laid out a green-top for the Nagpur Test against Australia. Ganguly skipped the game and Rahul Dravid led. Australia took an unassailable 2-0 lead to win the series.
Ganguly is going to be the BCCI’s voice now as its president. He has already spoken about India’s reduced revenue share and how it needs to be corrected. He showed restraint yesterday when he was asked about the ICC’s proposed Futures Tours Programme (FTP). “When I get an opportunity to be a part of the discussion, I will speak,” he said. And if, subject to the Supreme Court’s approval, Srinivasan returns as the BCCI’s representative at the ICC, things could become acrimonious. Srinivasan and Manohar don’t see eye to eye. The BCCI under its new dispensation won’t approve the ICC’s proposed Futures Tours Programme (FTP). And the Indian board holds the right not to sign the Members’ Participation Agreement (MPA).
Ganguly has already voiced his approval saying, “sometimes less is more”.
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