The West Indies’ walkout of the recent tour of India has propelled the vulnerability and anarchy of cricket to a new level. This is the first time in the history of the game that a tour has been curtailed by the players. In the past tours have been cancelled or curtailed for political and security reasons by the governing bodies but never before by the players.
Is this the first signs that player power is starting to dominate the game with serious consequences for its profile, future and commercial stability? If the players can walk out of a tour of India then it can happen to any country in world cricket. India is the commercial juggernaut that holds world cricket together financially.
If player power continues it will have serious ramifications for the controlling bodies of the cricketing nations. We have seen that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is claiming damages from the West Indies Cricket Board of 45 million dollars. These damages are for the loss of income from television rights, sponsors and gate monies.
The BCCI has also suspended all bilateral tours to the West Indies indefinitely and this will have a serious effect on their ability to generate revenue to run the game in the Caribbean. The WICB has for years struggled financially because of their economy that is based on many small islands that constitute the WICB. The damages claim and tour sanctions by the BCCI will damage the game irreparably in the West Indies, if implemented.
What happened in India, if repeated, will have massive consequences for world cricket. It will further damage a game already struggling for credibility because of match fixing and political problems with the public, broadcasters and sponsors. The impact on world cricket would raise serious questions about the future of international cricket.
What the West Indies players did was totally unacceptable and players, like administrators, need to accept that they have a responsibility for the welfare of the game and its future. They are the custodians of the game for a period and need to act responsibly to leave a healthy legacy.
The scheduled West Indies tour to South Africa later this year will be the next challenge facing the game. If the West Indies cancel the tour or send a below strength team, the credibility of cricket in South Africa and the Caribbean could be irreparably damaged.