May 19, London: The winds of change have clearly chiseled out a new world order in cricket administration, placing India well and truly on top. The evolution of the India's governing body for the sport - the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) - over the last two decades has marked a significant increase in the type of clout it wields, to the extent that it has virtually relegated the world's governing body - the International Cricket Council (ICC) - to playing second fiddle.
In a lot of cases, the ICC is obliged to pander to the whims and fancies of the Indian board, which is of no coincidence, the richest cricket body in the world. India's immense capacity for television viewership, a market which extends to nearly 200 million and which generates most of the ICC's income, is the sole basis of its power. So much so, that in order for other regional and national bodies to survive, India has to arrange frequent tours to these places, bloating up its team's itinerary through the year.
But coming back to the BCCI-ICC lopsided dynamic, one can not help but notice that it has ruffled quite a few feathers and has bred resentment from several quarters. Emerging as chief proponent for the cause against India's unparalleled authority has been popular television commentator Tony Greig. The tall and upright former England captain recently pointed out that the ICC is encountering serious problems at curtailing cricket's packed calender, owing to the fact that the BCCI's vote holds to much weight in their decisions. Thus Greig has hinted that India is in a sense killing the golden goose.
Greig may have a point, but he fails to realise that in past decades, other countries, namely his native England, and then Australia, have also ruled the roost. Up to the late 1980's these countries were the main venues for international series, before India began organising such tournaments of its own, the 1992 Hero Cup marking a watershed event.
The 1970s' Kerry Packer experiment of recruiting foreign players for an international league where they wore coloured clothing and played under floodlights, spawned the Australia World Series tradition from 1985. This was the world's largest money-spinning cricket event, rendering Australia the biggest say in the ICC's administration.
Also, the ICC President currently, as well as the President of the of the BCCI may be Indians (Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar), but not so long ago, both these posts as well as that of ICC CEO were held by Australians (Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Gray).
So Greig should realise that cricket is bound to flourish more in certain countries while taking a backseat in others. Presently it just so happens that it is India's moment in the sun while Australia and England have already tanned out.