BCCI: The Big Boss

Indian board demands money from ECB for series coverage.

N. Srinivasan: The lord and master of all he surveys.

The BCCI's growing clout in international cricket has been likened to the hold on international affairs that the Kremlin possessed some 30 years ago. India's primary sports body has made a habit of ruffling feathers - whether it's the aversion to DRS, or haraguing for an IPL window in an already choc-a-block season, or depriving England of spin in a practice match or the ECB of coverage rights if it fails to cough up the demanded amount. The tilt of the power axis may have been gradual, but now, after almost a decade of autocracy, dissent has been freely forthcoming. Senior sports journalist Rob Steen writes in Cricinfo about the bossy trait of the BCCI, and how - in a manner not entirely advocated - the new hierarchical arrangement of international cricket administration may act as a counterbalance to years and years of racism.

What, for instance, are we to make of the decision to demand that Sky Sports and the BBC cough up £500,000 and £50,000 respectively to cover England's impending set-to with India? While this might not necessarily be an over-estimate for 2000 sq ft of additional space at four Test venues, even if the air-conditioning does function properly, the short notice smacks of brinkmanship at best, at worst naked exploitation. Not that the idea of the ever-pompous BBC and the never knowingly satisfied Murdoch empire both being taken for a ride doesn't have considerable allure.

As with the refusal to field a frontline spinner in the India A XI, are we simply witnessing yet another skirmish in yet another pre-series, charm-free offensive ("C'mon lads, let's see if we can wind up Iron Bottom and all those snotty BBC types - should do MS and the boys a power of good")? Could it be a dastardly plot to cut Test Match Special out of the loop and do a back-door deal with those excitable folk at TalkSPORT? Or might it be something far more disreputable? Regardless of your vantage point, or even the efficiency of your blinkers, the words "fair", "proportionate" and "appropriate" are marginally less likely to spring to mind than "grasping", "provocative" or "here we go again".

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