The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) insatiable desire to control just about everything in the game has gained nasty proportions during the past few years. That said, the Indian cricket board’s brazen attempts to derail the Kashmir Premier League (KPL) being held at Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir this month, has uncovered BCCI’s ugly face like never before.
In theory, cricket and politics should be kept apart. In practice, however, both India and BCCI’s misplaced, warring nationalism has led to many shameful episodes that have sullied the gentleman’s game, particularly with reference to Pakistan-India cricket.
The latest episode where BCCI has threatened the foreign players with dire consequences over participation in the Kashmir Premier League (KPL) has tarnished its image beyond repair.
The dastardly act, aimed at inflicting severe damage on KPL at its very inception, has laid bare the nefarious designs of the Indian government – of which the BCCI is merely a pawn – to isolate Pakistan Cricket.
According to a report of the Indian Express, BCCI has clearly informed all the cricket boards around the world that participants of the KPL will have to end their commercial tie-ups with the BCCI and they will not be allowed to be part of any cricket-related activities in India.
And as if threatening the players was not enough, the BCCI has gone a step further by urging the ICC not to recognize the KPL, giving the ‘stooping low’ phrase an all-new meaning.
Former South African opener Herschelle Gibbs and ex-Sri Lankan opener Tillakartne Dilshan’s admirable stance in dismissing the BCCI threats and reiterating their commitment with KPL deserve high praise indeed. The same however, cannot be said of the other South African and England players who have succumbed to Indian cricket board’s antics have backed out from the league.
The big question here is, why has BCCI become such a control freak of late? The game’s knowledgeable critics will be quick to tell you how BCCI can go to outrageous levels in getting things working in their favour in world cricket, be it the scheduling of every cricket series around the globe, influencing the dates and venues of all international tournaments, annual allocation of money among the ICC member countries, etc. To put it succinctly, the BCCI ─ for well over a decade ─ has assumed the role of the game’s ‘official bully’ with the ICC being its favorite whipping boy.
The Indian cricket board proudly claims that it has attained this all-powerful position in the cricketing world by virtue of it being the richest cricket board which contributes nearly 80 percent of revenue to the sport and to International Cricket Council (ICC).
The argument may hold some weight but why does BCCI’s rise necessarily have to be exclusive and not inclusive? The harsh truth is that in spite of its newly acquired billions, the BCCI lacks the much-needed magnanimity that would be befitting of its self-proclaimed role as the game’s guardian. Both Australia and England, for decades on end, enjoyed a similar status in world cricket but never unlawfully imposed themselves on any board or nation.
The BCCI has been guilty on other fronts as well. It continues to snub the ICC by making a mockery of the Future Tours Programme in not honouring the bilateral cricket commitments with Pakistan since 2006. It also blatantly refuses to use the Decision Review System (DRS) technology in all the matches played in India despite it being made mandatory by the ICC for all cricket playing nations. Just how fair is that!
Besides, the BCCI has not quite come across as a morally incorruptible body in the preceding years. For instance, there have been numerous match-fixing controversies that have marred its flagship project, the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the past decade.
A former BCCI president himself owned an IPL team a few years back which was a blatant breach of rules while some of the other IPL team owners were let-off in serious scams. The board still hasn’t allowed the formation of a players’ body while those who raise voice against it are punished. But all of these offences have largely gone unnoticed by the authorities.
And if all this doesn’t matter – India’s inability to win matches abroad should. The BCCI may have over Rs2000 crore in its kitty, but they can’t figure out a way to make India win overseas. So how do they deserve to rule the world of cricket?
It is well past high time that the ICC’s other member cricket boards should rise in unison to put a stop to such high-handedness of India and the BCCI. Rather than pinning false hopes in a toothless body like the ICC that solely caters to whims and fancies of Indian cricket, the cricketing nations should form a block to shun and boycott India’s bullying tactics. It is not impossible to achieve and for that, they simply need to take inspiration from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in 2012 for two years on the basis of corruption, government interference, and not following guidelines of the IOC. The IOA has not dared to fall out of line ever since.
The writer is News Editor, Bol News.