The BCCI must realise that they cannot monopolise a global game

Rajesh Tiwary

Last month, the Indian cricket team wrapped up an extremely successful home season with a win against Australia. The win consolidated their position at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings and helped them achieve the unique feat of having a series triumph against all nine Test playing nations.

Financial loss or drop in the ocean?

Exactly a month after the hard-fought win, India’s Supreme Court-constituted Committee of Administrators of the Board of Control for Cricket in India lost the confidence and vote of all nine Test playing nations. This meant BCCI’s share of ICC’s revenues between 2016 and 2023 came down from $ 570 million to $ 293 million, a major chunk of their share going to Associate nations.

Many saw this as a setback for the whole nation. A result as bad as a diplomatic failure or a major commercial loss. While the BCCI is considering all options to undo their financial losses including a boycott of the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy, it might be amusing to note that when it comes to getting tax breaks from the government, BCCI office bearers have been quick to remind us that they are a “not for profit” organisation.

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While a loss of $ 277 million over eight years is indeed sizeable, it is far from catastrophic when you consider that in 2016, the Indian Premier League alone filled BCCI’s coffers with a neat $ 379 million.

Cricket evangelism

Before Ranjitsinhji picked up a bat, a straight delivery bowled at the stump was supposed to be played in the “V’. Ranjit started to use his wrists to deflect the ball behind square on the leg side, thus inventing the leg glance. Before Gordon Greenidge, batsmen played the pull shot, but Greenidge pioneered a version where he unleashed hell’s fury on the little round object.

The spectacle of the game gets richer when practitioners from different parts of the world bring their personalities and unique characteristics into this great game. Will it not be exciting to see what a young Chinese kid may do with a ball in his hand or how far a Maasai warrior from Kenya can go if provided the right facilities?

The ICC’s charter is to grow and diversify the game. A strong cricket nation like India will thrive with or without their financial aid. A budding Associate nation needs all the help it can get in growing a fanbase.

The BCCI’s demands for a larger chunk of ICC’s profits by saying that India contributes more than other cricketing nations is absurd. By that same logic, a person who pays higher tax should demand a separate road for himself. Will the BCCI start demanding special playing conditions and rules for its players at ICC tournaments next?

Cricket first, profits second

The BCCI’s approach is myopic when it chooses cricket protectionism over an opportunity for cricket evangelism. It should realise that the BCCI prospers if cricket prospers globally. A global game cannot be monopolised. It is not a business where one company can prosper at another company’s expense.

There have been arguments that the BCCI can just live off the IPL. Not true. What would the IPL be without Chris Gayle or a Brendon McCullum or even the latest spin bowling wizard Rashid Khan from Afghanistan, an Associate nation?

Every new country the game goes to is a potential market for the BCCI to sell its TV rights. It means another country where Tendulkar can become a demigod and Kohli an icon. Winning cricket games and topping rankings is great for Indian cricket but the BCCI can enhance India’s position as cricket’s powerhouse by sending across coaches and officials to these new places.

While a few extra dollars may satisfy some egos, it may hurt the global game. Any stand BCCI takes should be based on the principle of putting cricket first and some short term monetary gains second.