A little while ago we all saw a parallel storyline gathering steam while the IPL was on in full tilt and the events were not even unfolding in the cricket field but in the ballot boxes of the International Cricket Council, which ended up conducting (no pun intended) one of the most acrimonious elections in recent years. Although the ICC had made it clear to all member boards that all of them should abstain from lobbying for their candidates in the elections for selecting the members of the ICC’s cricket committee in any way, it became apparent once the results were declared that all of it had fallen on deaf ears when the much feted former Australian cricketer and chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) found himself bundled out of the committee and out of their jobs.
So there lies the back drop and no prizes of guessing who the rogue cricket board turned out to be – it was the BCCI, who ‘pressurised’ the 5 key member boards to vote in favour of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. The Australian and English media went into overdrive the moment this was announced and even ended up calling the BCCI a ‘cancer’ and its president the ‘most destructive man in cricket’. The BCCI had always had a needle with FICA, whom they never recognised as a players’ union of sorts and whatever they ever proposed were always shot down without even as much as looking at it and so you would agree that it was only in the BCCI’s interests that they would try and oust the chief executive of FICA from the ICC cricket committee.
Now no one is disputing that it is well within the BCCI’s scope of influence to swing 5 votes in favour of a candidate who they feel is well disposed towards their cause and Mr. Sivaramakrishnan, whose full time job is with India Cements owned by N. Srinivasan – the BCCI president – is anything but. However, what is astounding is the way they have painted Laxman Sivaramakrishnan as instead having the job of a ‘paid commentator’ of the BCCI deliberately overlooking the fact that he had also played Test cricket for India. The 4 countries who voted for Tim May- South Africa, New Zealand, Australia (understandably) and England sent their PR machinery on overdrive to pull down the BCCI for its brazen show of power to retain the ‘monopoly’ they had in the ICC.
We need to get a few facts straight before we get into the pros and cons of the BCCI’s show of economic power in the cricketing world. First of all, the BCCI controls the world game because of the massive revenues it earns for the rest of the cricketing world and for those in the England and Australia who are bemoaning the developments should think twice before they take on the BCCI because no matter how much they try and talk up the Ashes; it is a tour by the Indian team that would drive up their revenues to levels that an Ashes series would never do. In addition to that, history is replete with examples of how powerful countries, dynasties and kings had always tried to see to their own interests before they saw to the interests of the less fortunate. The ones sitting in the dark long room at Lord’s or MCG should try and live with the fact that the heart of cricket no longer beats in London or Melbourne but in the boardrooms of the BCCI in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata or Chennai. Many in Cricket do realize this (the power of the BCCI) – take for instance Haroon Lorgat – one of the first things he said on being elected the head of CSA is that he will try to improve CSA’s relationship with the Indian board. The mandate is clear- either you are with the BCCI or against them– and there is no great benefit of being against them other than the stoking of erstwhile long forgotten pride.