Smaller sport, bigger egos – Cricket can lose the battle against its administrators

Author : Nayyar Abdul Rasheed
BCCI and CSA - denying fans of an epic battle

BCCI and CSA – denying fans of an epic battle?

What was earlier meant to be a marquee series, first became a battle of the boards, and has now spilled over into a fight between reputed cricket experts.

The well known and much respected, Mr. Harsha Bhogle recently expressed his views on the India-South Africa stand-off and got flak from Australian journalist, Mr. Gideon Haigh, resulting in a war of words between fans on online social platforms.

In a nutshell, what Mr. Bhogle suggests, is that other cricketing nations should create a “parallel economy” and not depend on BCCI alone for revenue. He gives the analogy with US and India’s dependence on the dollar in a bid to prove that Indians are not blind to the frustrations of a major power serving its own interests first.

But in doing so, as Mr. Haigh points out in his rebuttal of sorts, what Mr. Bhogle is suggesting is that BCCI is the same as the capitalist governments seeking their own interest above all.

Whereas it’s not a wrong idea to find alternative sources of income for boards who’re overly dependent on BCCI touring their countries, one feels the current tussle between the boards didn’t demand an every-man-for-himself approach.

The biggest issue here is the fact that utmost secrecy has been maintained regarding the real issue at the bottom of the ego battles happening behind the curtains.

The fans are aware of only one truth – Haroon Lorgat and the BCCI top brass don’t see eye to eye. The Woolf report, 2011 World Cup venue issues are some of the finer indicators.

The displeasure has now boiled over into a controversy that is going to alienate one of the most trusted allies of BCCI away from the cash-rich body.

It’s the easy way out to blame BCCI squarely for all the wrong-doings and perhaps when one has been so ignorant of the finer workings of a cricket administration, it’s easy to portray it as the evil-doer.

When discussions changed from friendships turning sour into BCCI blatantly looting South Africa of its ‘fair’ share of revenue, one may understand what may have prompted Mr. Bhogle to come out in support of the administrators, having perhaps watched from close quarters that not all is black and white with the Srinivasan led body.

In all fairness, Mr. Bhogle’s earlier call to BCCI for coming out in clear about the tour has been overlooked by his critics.

But cricket is no world economy. Its effects are not visible in far fetching corners of the globe; heck, by no means can cricket be called global in any sense. The United States government can choose to dictate terms, keeping its interests firmly in front, because the rest will follow; the world economy, in order to sustain itself, will follow the ‘big bad bully’s’ footsteps.

Cricket, today, is not in a position to deem the cancellation of such a marquee series due to a personal quarrel, as an insignificant loss. It’s most definitely not.

The ‘global’ reach of cricket goes as far as 12-14 nations at the very maximum. And that number brings questions of diluting the playing field; such is the situation of the sport currently. In such a scenario, the number one and third ranked teams, by getting deeper into these muddy waters are only contributing to the growth of their already inflated egos, not cricket.

For the ticket paying, line jumping, crushed in a mass of human bodies, shouting from the stands, braving heat and rain fans, or channel subscribing, office bunking viewers, all that matters is cricket and the cricketers.

And that’s the scary part. Once the charm reduces, once the magic wears off, such petty feuds, such disregard for the fans will come to bite the same administrators, and more than anything else, the game of cricket.

BCCI has the power to act in its own right, and it’s definitely not its responsibility to ensure other cricket boards are not going bankrupt. But what gives BCCI that power are the fans and the global superiority. Even after the giddy high of 2011 World Cup, fans would be ready to be firmly behind their team in 2015, and BCCI can expect the crowd to turn up to watch Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni or Yuvraj Singh even if it’s a West Indies ‘A’ side that’s come touring on our shores.

But if BCCI, or for that matter any cricket board, aims to reap the benefits of this power by taking the control of whatever little ‘global’ which is there in cricket; if all it wants is emulate the US in creating a league of its own sport, not caring how the rest of the world grows with it, those are some petty ambitions for a sport as good as cricket.

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