While much hue and cry has been made on the ongoing tussle between the BCCI and the ICC pertaining to the deadlock that has ensued, the middle-ground or so to speak if the Indian board accepts the ICC's offer of an additional corpus of $100 million hasn't been paid much attention to.
After being voted out 2-8 in the favour of the new financial reforms – that reduce the BCCI's share in the central revenue pool of the global body from $570 million to $293 million – and 1-9 in the favour of the new constitution, the BCCI has been up in arms against the perceived disparity and has been using “all means possible” to get its desired share of the finances.
Amitabh Choudhary, the BCCI representative to the ICC meetings held last week and the acting secretary was offered an additional corpus of $100 million by the global body's independent president Shashank Manohar, after he had rejected, on his board's behalf, the proposed share of $293 million out of the central pool of $2.7 billion.
That additional amount would have taken the BCCI's share close to $400 million, but Choudhary was not the one to budge. “Because it is far less than what India deserves fairly,” he told Indian Express when asked about why had he declined the offer.
The BCCI is of the opinion that since it contributes, in its own words, 70% of the earnings of the board, it deserves the original share of $570 million, which it had originally been receiving under the “Big Three” model proposed in 2014.
“Why do you forget that a disproportionate share of revenues to cricket comes from India? It's very easy and misleading to say that India is getting a disproportionate share,” Choudhary reiterated.
“The facts are that over 70 per cent of cricket's revenue world over comes from the Indian market. That [the $293 million offered by the ICC] is not even close to the contribution that India makes.”
This was in response to the finance model that Manohar had presented in February that was based on an equitable distribution of finances across all the member countries.
However, the deadlock as it stands, with Manohar in no mood to pay heed to India's concerns and the BCCI in no mood to relent – the signs of which were shown when BCCI missed the deadline of announcing the squads for the Champions Trophy on May 1 – a middle ground needs to be established.
While the media reports of India pulling out of the eight-team tournament set to commence on June 1 in England and Wales do invite a certain scope of speculation, the BCCI may play the cunning fox and devise a path that not only sends across alarm bells to the global body but also preserves the interests of the Indian fans who have already booked their tickets for the tournament.
Why India could send a second-string side
A team is as strong and as popular as the players who play for it and more than the collective conscience of an Indian team that participates in any global tournament, it is the possibility of watching big stars perform off-shore that attracts the crowd to the stadiums and the audience to their TV sets.
An example to prove the above-mentioned premise is the tour to Zimbabwe that often has fringe and second-string players playing for the side and trying to make a case for themselves to be brought into contention for the full-strength side.
While that is done generally to give the start performers a rest and test the team's bench strength, the possibility of a similar move to be repeated for the Champions Trophy, at the risk of sounding preposterous and arrogant, may not be completely ruled out.
If India chose a second-string side for the Champions Trophy, with big names like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma et al missing from the setup, it would serve two purposes.
One, it would prevent India from breaching the Members Participation Agreement (MPA) that mandates member nations to participate in ICC global tournaments, and two, it would send a strong message across all other boards as well as the ICC that the BCCI may do the same for their bilateral tours.
The move may sound to be brash, selfish and highly unprofessional, but the BCCI hasn't been the one to give two cents about professionalism and especially if its own interests are threatened.
For all the talk of professionalism, the BCCI sent three different representatives for the last three ICC meetings and missed the deadline for announcing the squads. To top all of that, it was the BCCI who, in partnership with its long-term allies, the ECB and the CA had cornered the rest of the world from the revenue pool and had devised the “Big Three” model.
Preserving the fan's interest
A flip side to this could be betraying the fans and followers of Indian cricket who would miss out on the chance of watching their favourite players play in an ICC tournament.
However, the possibility of even conducting an ICC tournament henceforth – while facing broadcasting issues as well as low gate receipts – owing to the fan following that India has and the share of broadcast revenue that India contributes, looks to be highly dismissive.
The 2007 World Cup, wherein India had crashed out of the group stages may be cited as an example to support this point. Moreover, if India play, and if this method of baiting the ICC into following its own whims does require materialization, the fans would watch the matches. The numbers would be low, probably, but the fans would watch nevertheless.
An experiment as drastic as this one may inflict a deep wound all across the cricketing fraternity and may either force the global body to cede to the BCCI's demands or may open up an imbroglio that would be unprecedented in all of cricket administration's history.