This is departure from the usual foreign/military policy related post, but not entirely unconnected to the subject of hard power central to this blog. The last time I wrote on an extraneous subject was when in November 2013 I excoriated the Manmohan Singh government for conferring an entirely undeserved Bharat Ratna on Sachin Tendulkar — “Bharat Ratna for thwacking the ball?” (https://bharatkarnad.com/2013/11/17/bharat-ratna-for-thwacking-a-ball/. For reasons I cannot fathom, this piece in the archives of this blog is truncated. Should I smell a conspiracy?!)
I have just returned from lunching with a high official presiding over the fate of Indian cricket, and hence world cricket. What he said may be of interest and, in any case, is a story I am now breaking! But I will get to it after the preliminaries!
The Indian people turning on their television sets and tolerating unending advertisements for this and that between sessions of cricket (currently, in the ongoing one day ICC championship in Britain) are the reason India is the cricketing super power that it is. If you pay the piper, you get to call the tune. But that’s not what all the other cricketing states think is right. The billions of dollars that television advertisements generate, fill the coffers of the BCCI, of course, but also sustain the game in all the other countries. The trouble is India is the global purse other cricketing powers want to raid, for which purpose they voted to have a fairer, more equitable, distribution of the revenues, in which India’s take from the worldwide cricket revenue pot was restricted to $339 million, when it was responsible for for almost all of it. Originally, India, Australia and England took the giant’s share of the monies so generated, with India helping itself to $445 million.
Correctly judging such shanghai-ing of India’s monies to be intolerable, the Supreme Court appointed Committee (SCAC) has told BCCI reps to negotiate with the ICC but as a compromise to accept nothing less than $420 million as India’s share, a figure amended to $425 million (owing to the unfortunate allusion to the IPC provision 420 for the crime of cheating!) So, India will have its $425 million — a full $20 million less than its original take — or the ICC and international cricket can go take a hike!
There’s no wiggle room afforded the BCCI reps. Either the world cricket body accepts the revised Indian position that involves India’s taking $425 million, or India will decide, I presume, to cut separate deals with cricket control boards of various countries. That’s the story here! But, if it comes to that stage, then GOI may want to coordinate with SCAC to use the leverage of interest in cricket and generosity to reward friendly cricketing states and punish states not toeing India’s line, as extension of the Indian foreign policy. This is at once right and necessary. Think of it as a sports great power imperative!
This person also revealed the shenanigans of the Sharad Pawar group and the more powerful Srinivasan group (with the much smaller Anurag Thakur coterie on the sidelines) that, in their tussle to control BCCI, tried everything, including upending the recently concluded IPL by denying the use, as reported by the press, of stadia for the matches, etc. In this standoff the BCCI staffers, most of them contract workers, cagily weighed the balance of power between these two groups before siding with this or that group on issues of import. It led to an ultimatum to the BCCI staff from SCAC to implement decisions taken by SCAC, or to not turn up for work, which did the trick.