Ever since the cricket boards of Australia, England and India (the big three of world cricket) effectively took control of the International Cricket Council the suspicion has been that world cricket’s foremost governing body has been slowly declining into little more than an edifice for the maintenance of the game’s elite nations.
In word and in deed, the ICC have singularly failed to provide any convincing evidence that their priorities truly lie in promoting cricket as a game for all and by doing so have neglected their duty to the reputation, values and attitude which fans and players of cricket hold so dear.
The perfect exemplar is the way in which the ICC have essentially allowed the BCCI to exploit less prominent nations for their own financial gain and act against not just their obligations but against the very spirit of the game. At times the conduct of the Indian cricket authorities has appeared to be little more than extortion and blackmail, as was especially clear when the Board of Control for Cricket in India demanded a multi-million dollar settlement from the West Indies Cricket Board who, at the time, were little better than utterly penniless.
While some might say that the ICC has no jurisdiction or mandate to challenge the BCCI in such matters, it seems that the body charged with promoting cricket throughout the world should be doing whatever is in their power to prevent one of the giants of the world game acting in such a hostile manner to the fallen titan that is West Indian cricket. If the ICC will not act to prevent what could have been a deathblow to the WICB, then when will they act to preserve the best interests of global cricket?
Now the BCCI are involved in yet another scandal and once again the ICC appear to be unready to act, even as a potential mediator. The Pakistan Cricket Board have said they will boycott the prestigious and money-spinning World T20 competition if India fail to fulfil an agreed upon series of Test, ODI and T20 fixtures with Pakistan.
With Pakistan re-developing their cricketing structure after being afflicted by years of scandal, corruption and disaster, a series with India could have provided the money that the Pakistan Cricket Board desperately need to continue the fantastic work they have done in rebuilding Pakistani cricket and equally could have provided the kind of stern test that Pakistan’s players need to continue their personal development.
India’s refusal to honour the agreed upon series has clearly been influenced by the geopolitical tensions within the region; tensions which have only been aggravated by an attack upon BCCI offices by far-right Hindu nationalists in protest against the proposed matches with Pakistan.
However, the lack of any transparent attempt to reach a compromise belies the BCCI’s disinterest in aligning with the ICC’s supposed goal of promoting cricket and their obvious lack of regard for the interests of developing and re-developing cricketing nations.
With India’s privileged position at the forefront of world cricket, their influence in the ICC and the scale of the impact they could potentially have, it seems that they should carry some degree of duty to help promote cricket, yet they appear interested in very little beyond continuing to reinforce their position of dominance.
The ICC’s failure to act as anything more than a puppet for the major cricketing nations is equally shameful and if cricket is to remain relevant in the modern day then the BCCI, English Cricket Board, Cricket Australia and the ICC will all need to step up and take a cumulative responsibility for the state of the game.
Image courtesy of NAPARAZZI