Speed takes a swipe at under-performing India

Published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:India's long-running dispute with the International Cricket Council (ICC) flared up after the world governing body poked fun at the losing Indian team.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed told reporters the big money that Indian cricket managed to generate due to its vast television audiences did not reflect the true state of the sport in the country.

Speed also took a swipe at the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI), saying he judged sporting organisations by on-field performances and infrastructure, not on how much money they had in the bank.

"I judge them on how well the team performs, how they look after stake-holders in terms of facilities on the ground etc, and how well they use resources like population to produce great cricketers," said Speed on Wednesday.

The BCCI, the richest cricket body in the world which this year signed deals worth a billion dollars, is on the warpath with the ICC over handing over players' commercial rights to the governing body.

India has refused to sign the Members Participation Agreement (MPA) of the ICC in its current form which binds teams to all major events for the next eight years, saying it affected the BCCI's own deals.

Last month, BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi accused the ICC of "snooty, avaricious neo-colonialism" in a signed newspaper article.

"The avaricious and snooty officials are behaving more as masters and less as paid executives," Modi wrote of the governing body.

India, currently hosting the ICC's Champions Trophy limited-overs tournament, failed to make the semi-finals in their own backyard last week.

Speed noted that New Zealand, which has a population of four million, entered the semi-finals when India could not despite a billion people at its disposal.

"New Zealand do not have lot of money, but they are consistent," said Speed. "India last won a major cricketing event in 1983 (when they won the World Cup)."

The ICC's Executive Board is meeting in Mumbai on Friday and Saturday to discuss if the BCCI's offer to bid for the global marketing and television rights for the next eight years can be accepted.

The ICC's's current seven-year deal, worth $550 million, ends after the next World Cup in the Caribbean in March-April.

The BCCI, which sold its own television rights for four years for a whopping $612 million, believes it can earn the ICC at least two billion dollars if given the rights.

India, the economic powerhouse of world cricket, won the right to hold the 2011 World Cup jointly with South Asian neighbours Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Five of the ICC's six main sponsors are Indian firms or the Indian branches of international businesses which target the enormous market on the sub-continent where cricket totally dominates all sports.

The BCCI declined to react to Speed's comments.


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