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Old December 22, 2009, 09:56 AM
sharifk sharifk is offline
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Join Date: February 15, 2007
Location: Dhaka
Posts: 304

It's interesting that others are thinking of the same now....


How does the ICC remedy that inequality? How does it renew its control over cricket's calendar, to guard against a repeat of this year's absurd and meaningless congestion, and distribute revenues from the game more equitably, so that the game prospers all over the world? There is actually a solution so compellingly simple, logical and obvious that you just know it can never happen: the BCCI cedes control over the IPL and the Champions League to the ICC, which makes them into genuinely global tournaments with franchises in every Test-playing country, and in due course perhaps some non-Test playing ones too.

Presto: the traditional monopoly of the official game is restored, although the players continue to benefit from any market growth, because of the competition for their services from the new franchises, and the fans in other countries are given a stake in the excitement, rather than essentially having to look over Indian fans' shoulder. Other boards can cease their so-far fruitless and essentially pointless efforts to grow their own Twenty20 attractions; instead they share the benefits via ICC distributions from a properly constituted and multilaterally governed worldwide competition. Lalit Modi accepts the thanks of a grateful cricket world, and sheers off to star as himself in a Bollywood biopic.

The obstacles? One is the ICC's reputation, reminiscent of a jest told at the Australian newspaper giant John Fairfax after its ruin in an ill-starred leveraged buy-out led by impatient heir Warwick Fairfax: "How do you create a small business? Give a large business to Warwick Fairfax." Who would trust ICC to run a corner store after the shambles of the last World Cup, of which those final nocturnal meanderings were somehow a profoundly fitting culmination?

It's a fair question. By the same token, it's not as though the BCCI is exactly a streamlined model of commercial efficiency either, struggling with such complicated tasks as answering phone calls and delivering mail; were it issued a school report, meanwhile, the teacher would be obliged to make the comment "Does not play well with others". The greatest strength the BCCI enjoys is India - the fans, the viewers, the market - which it has done no more to deserve than by existing.

No, the chief obstacles to this proposition would be as straightforward as the proposition itself: ego, personal and national. The IPL is about India as much, if not more, than cricket; about the country's status in its own eyes and those of others; against that, even the welfare of cricket is perhaps a paltry concern.

Yet the influence and significance of India would hardly be diluted at all: the economic epicentre for an International Premier League/International Champions League would still overwhelmingly be where it is now. The only change would be that certain individuals very powerful today would be somewhat less so, even if they would in a sense be yielding their power to a countryman in the ICC's president-elect Sharad Pawar, and that the indigenous pride engendered by the IPL might in the short term be diffused, to perhaps be rekindled in due course by the prospect of Bangalore Royal Challengers v Durban Dik-Diks or Kolkata Knight Riders v Cardiff Kojaks. Whatever the case, cricket's increasingly divided house must be put in order. The ICC's crisis of relevance is, to borrow a line from Barack Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a crisis too good to waste.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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Last edited by sharifk; December 22, 2009 at 10:52 AM..
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