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A recent survey conducted by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA) found that around 70 per cent of players believe that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has too much influence over issues within world cricket.
FICA chief Tim May sought to clarify these results by stating that, “players don’t have a problem with BCCI being powerful. They appreciate the money that BCCI is bringing into the sport, and the IPL continues to be popular. In fact, one third of them are ready to quit international cricket for it.”
The players main concern, he said, was the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s increasing trend of succumbing to the demands of the BCCI.
There have been numerous examples of this over the past few years.
In early 2008, there was the ‘monkeygate’ row, where off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was charged with racially abusing Andrew Symonds and banned for three test matches by the ICC.
Following this verdict, the BCCI threatened to withdraw from the series with Australia if the ban was not lifted. Less than a month later, they got their wish.
In 2010, John Howard submitted an application to the ICC for the vacant vice-presidency. The former Prime Minister of Australia was unsuccessful, after the ICC received strong opposition from several countries.
India was the most high profile of these, with the local media suggesting that his “closet racism” was one of the main reasons behind their country’s stance.
More recently, the BCCI has voiced its displeasure with the ICC’s proposal to introduce the Decision Review System (DRS) into all international matches.
With captain MS Dhoni and the legendary Sachin Tendulkar also against the proposal due to doubts over the technology’s accuracy, the BCCI has ominously declared its plans to ensure that it does not go ahead.
Though these incidents are proof of India’s current influence over world cricket, and the ICC, it also highlights the unrealistic expectations of those who participated in the FICA survey.
Cricket is no different to every other sport. It is hugely political. Whoever has the money, has the power.
The players are all eager to laud the BCCI for the extra cash that has become available without acknowledging that the ICC also needs and wants a share of the riches.
However, many fans and commentators are worried that the ICC’s decision to become a passenger will continue to affect the sport’s future.
Tony Greig has recently spoken out against India’s handling of their new status as cricket’s most powerful nation. The former English captain believes that the ICC’s inability to prevent the IPL from having an open window could eventually destroy Test cricket.
“It’s laughable that (Chris) Gayle and (Kieron) Pollard are playing in the IPL when the West Indies are playing in Pakistan – that is just ridiculous,” he said.
Even so, those who criticise India, and indeed the IPL, over concerns that it will affect the cornerstone of cricket, obviously have short memories. During the 1970s, Australia’s own Kerry Packer created a rebel competition that opposed the ICC’s demands and threatened the traditions of the game.
World Series Cricket became the sport’s largest money-spinning event and was a major factor in Australia’s influence over administrative decisions in the coming decades.
Though India’s current control of world cricket might not be for the good of the game, it would be a surprise if there weren’t many who thought the same about Australia’s and England’s own periods of dominance.