What’s the story?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the richest body in the game and the clout it exercises over world cricket is no secret. However, ever since the Supreme Court has come down hard on the BCCI and has clipped its wings by sacking Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke, the board has been pushed into a corner.
Thus, with the ICC meet currently underway in Dubai, for the first time in more than 25 years the Indian board is no more than a mute spectator owing to the ambiguous nature of its representation in the meet.
One of the biggest takeaways from this ICC meeting could be the rollback of the ‘big three’ model which has taken over world cricket. The Supreme Court of India has appointed IDFC MD and CEO Vikram Limaye to attend the meet along with BCCI secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary.
However, irrespective of who represents India at the meet, the board would not be able to push forward its agenda or influence any of the proceedings which unfold in the meeting. This leaves the board with a potential last-minute move of threatening to pull of the Champions Trophy.
In case you didn’t know…
Back in 2016 when the BCCI was fighting several legal battles in the Supreme Court, the ICC held a meeting which decided the agenda for the current meeting. And since the BCCI had no say in ratifying the agenda, it is expected to be sidelined when these proposals are up for discussion.
One of the main issues which came up for discussion was the proposal to roll back the big three model within the ICC. According to the Big 3 model, three countries – namely India, Australia and England – would earn the lion’s share of the profits of the ICC. By the virtue of this, these three boards would be in charge of the world body, both on the field and in the drawing room where the decisions are made.
A new executive committee was set up which would oversee all matters in and around the ICC, and the three aforementioned countries would have the power to override all other committees. Also, according to this model, all key positions in the ICC would be reserved for the nominees of BCCI-CA-ECB.
Back in 2014, N Srinivasan had also suggested that the revenue should be allocated to the three countries based on their contribution to the ICC. As per this, India would get 20.3%, England 4.4%, and Australia 2.7%. This financial imbalance created a flutter amongst the other countries but there were no objections made owing to the clout exercised by the trio.
However, ever since former BCCI president Shashank Manohar has assumed the mantle of the ICC, there have been reports that he is not at ease with the Big Three set up. He believes that the three countries are basically bullying other cricketing nations, and so has been an advocate of pulling back the model.
If the ICC does indeed walk the distance and get the job done, it would hit the coffers of the BCCI significantly. The Indian board would get 16-17% of the world revenue, which would be far less than the current share of 20.3%.
The heart of the matter
If the BCCI does indeed decide to pull out from the multi-national tournament, it would throw the financial arrangements of the International Cricket Council into disarray.
Such would be the impact of a BCCI withdrawal that the ICC could be potentially brought hurtling down to its knees right before the tournament, which would in turn throw the tournament in jeopardy.
It should be mentioned here that controversial former BCCI president N Srinivasan has always supported the Big 3 setup and has expressed his disappointment with the moves made by Shashank Manohar as the ICC president.
Several reports suggest that Amitabh Chaudhary also forwarded the minutes of the first meeting of the newly appointed committee to N Srinivasan who, despite his ouster from the board, continues to wield power as the TNCA president.
The ICC would be well aware of BCCI’s intentions, and the governing body would look to pull out all the stops in dealing with the impending financial crisis and in bringing the BCCI back to the negotiation table.
Whatever the outcome of the meeting, it is pretty clear that the Lodha Committee has managed to hit the BCCI where it hurts the most – which is their financial muscle. And owing to the uncertainties within its own circles, the Indian board is facing uncertain times even with the ICC.
The Indian board, which for a long time has run the ICC in many ways, has been sidelined to a great extent, and this has left them clutching at straws to somehow stay afloat. Threatening to pull out of Champions Trophy could be a successful attempt to remind the ICC that despite the jittery conditions back home, the BCCI still exercises a lot of influence when it comes to running the game – especially in global tournaments where India is a marquee presence.