The hijacking of the coffers of international cricket by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is well-documented. During the past week, however, conflicting signals have emanated from India – on the one hand re-affirming their financial upper-hand, on the other suggesting it might be toned down.
After a mini-Cold War between the BCCI and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, bilateral ties were resumed last year. An agreement was reached that India will play against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over Christmas this year and that it will be regarded as a home series for Pakistan.
The importance of it being a home series for Pakistan is simple: Countries outside the Big Three (India, England and Australia) get the overwhelming majority of their income by hosting international series. More so when you host India, because your television rights can be sold to the vast Indian market. A lot of money is therefore at stake for the PCB.
A fortnight ago India started with their fixture and, by unavoidable consequence, financial tinkering again. First they said the Indian government will not allow them to play Pakistan in the UAE. To date, no explanation for this stance has been forthcoming from either the BCCI or the Indian government. In an effort to save the series, it was then proposed that Sri Lanka should host the series. Pakistan reluctantly agreed but only because they would otherwise suffer a massive financial setback.
But then the BCCI played their latest card: They want a significant chunk of the income from the series because it can no longer be regarded as a home series for Pakistan! How big a bully does the BCCI want to be?
Earlier in the aftermath of the fall of former BCCI supremo, N.Srinivasan, and the election on 4 October of Shashank Manohar as new chairman (by virtue of a rotational system he also automatically became ICC president), the BCCI pledged a new era of clean governance at home and fairness to all stakeholders in international cricket.
Furthermore, according to recent news reports, Manohar has hit out at the imbalance of the ICC’s governing body which allowed the Big Three to bully the organisation. According to Manohar “it is wrong” that the Big Three should dictate all commercial and financial aspects of the game: “You should have the best man, whether he comes from Zimbabwe, or West Indies … who will promote the interests of the ICC.”
Either the BCCI’s left-hand has no idea what the right-hand is doing, or it is employing some version of the age-old “divide and rule” tactic. Whichever is the case, the BCCI still cannot be trusted that it would put the interests of world cricket ahead of themselves.