Remember the time when as children, people spent so much time picking teams and squabbling amongst themselves over friends dumped and forced-upon foes that the hour of play usually ended without the game being played at all?
This is all getting out of hand. It is not an opinion of one, but shared by many. One look at the top cricket headlines (even sports headlines in Indian newspapers, television) and it becomes apparent that perhaps the control for power in cricket has never been felt more or fought more over. The BCCI needs to draw a line because as things stand, the boundary lines are getting blurred.
The ICC continues to suffer a perennial problem. It operates as the world’s governing cricket body and yet does not really reinforce that belief often enough thereby, unwittingly sowing seeds of deception. Take the latest fiasco. The ICC bent rules and acceded to the BCCI when the Lalit Modi-run IPL (Indian Premier League) made a monopolistic bid to keep the ICL (Indian Cricket League) players out of all forms of cricket. New Zealand cricket administrators had no idea of the jolt they would be in for when their players joined en masse with the ICL, promised to regain their place back in the New Zealand team at the end of the Indian summer.
The ICC fell for the lure of money and the sub continent’s insatiable appetite of the sport and is now facing what can only be described as treachery. The IPL is threatening to poach players left, right and center and leaving more than one Board looking back with disdain at the ICC for the holding out the carpet for the BCCI. Now the IPL wants to poach the limelight from the ICC’s own troubled child, the Champions Trophy, and the ICC can do little other than send across frantic emails.
It is not in ICC’s interests to put paid to the IPL. After all it would be like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. However, it should never have been in the IPL or BCCI’s jurisdiction to call for ban on ‘rebel’/parallel leagues just because it threatens their own monopolistic way of running things. In fact few people sympathized with the BCCI when the ICL was announced. It was perhaps an indication that people wanted to see something different. It took the BCCI six months thereafter to come up with a counterattack. While the IPL has achieved what it set out to do, put down the ICL while making the already cash rich board even more filthy rich, it has crossed the fine line between working towards new innovation and dimensions and incensing the conquest to snare and usurp power.
The ICC is having a hard time making the point that the IPL is a structure outlined with an international audience eyeball-grabbing affair in mind. The IPL is very much a domestic tournament but with international entities, as the IPL fights its case and for its place. The shrewd Lalit Modi, the man running the BCCI’s IPL show, is smart enough to ensure there are sufficient loopholes to pull players together with just one dangling carrot. Now the ICC is facing an inconvenient situation where it has little choice but to call on support from other Boards and request them to accede to the ICC’s appeal indirectly not to send their teams for the Champions Twenty20 League in India so close to the Champions Trophy.
Their fear stems from the fact that they have not endeared the boards with their decision to keep the Champions Trophy in Pakistan. While player pull outs would mean huge financial disaster for the trouble ridden Champions Trophy, it would have dramatically diametrically opposite effect on the star studded IPL. It seems bizarre that not a squeak is coming out of these very teams about touring India which is in the grip of bomb explosions in multiple cities and several more coming under the danger scanner. With such fat cheques, there are bound to be other ‘more important’ problems. For example, if the offer is extended to New Zealand instead of England, Jacob Oram will, in all likelihood, be forced to play for Chennai Super Kings instead of Central Districts, the winners of New Zealand’s domestic circuit. Such similar issues are bound to crop up and Modi and his mean will show they are right in wanting the best since India has taken the initiative.
But India’s arm stretches far beyond necessitated when it tries to dictate other Boards into running their domestic cricket. In a fair contest, the Champions League should field all teams at full strength so long as their players know the legal mannerism of playing the game. It would have been acceptable that the ICL team did not take part in an IPL related event. But for India to decide which England county team merited a place because of their non-affiliation to ICL players is being paranoid to the point of the inane. What war exactly is the BCCI fighting?
The ugly affair in Parliament surrounding the trust vote revealed the brazenly corrupt, vested side of politicians. The Twenty20 tussles are becoming obvious that cricket is not of the real concern, profit making and profit sharing is.
This ‘us versus them’ has snowballed into such a ridiculous scenario where England wants to hosts its own version of the Champions League in Dubai. India of course will not go, not because of the Sharjah’s betting clouds, but because India will not want to lend its name and face for a money spinner whose fifty per cent shares do not accrue to its own kitty. It is turning into kitty parties and the cat fights are not getting pretty.
Speaking of felines, the lions, leopards and tigers are set to fight amongst themselves for another trophy prize. This is not about control over the animal kingdom. Rather there is now WFL to handle and they are going to mushroom more knowing there is money to be had amongst other things. Lalit Modi need not worry. This is still at the sapling phase and involves teams from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan of players between the age of fourteen to seventeen years. Here’s the uneasy catch: will the BCCI ban this too. After all look who is filling in as brand ambassador? Not New Zealand’s Chris Cairns but ICL team Chandigarh Lions’ skipper Chris Cairns!