The Phantom Menace

I thought I’d copy out an article I’ve just read. Keeper99 linked me to another article from the Hyderabad (Central Zone I believe) news press and had me off looking to see other views. I came across this article which is a darn sight more sobering than some of the cries of relief we are hearing. It’s from the Indian Express (emboldened parts are my emphasis):

A rock, a hard place

BCCI chief has an unenviable job at a difficult time. He must step up to it.

– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/bcci-shashank-manohar-a-rock-a-hard-place/#sthash.fnOv0895.dpuf

It will be understandable if the Indian cricket board president, Shashank Manohar, feels that, right now, he is being loved and viewed with suspicion, both at the same time. The Anglo-Saxon part of the cricketing world is lauding him for the clean-up job he has promised at the International Cricket Council. But the Indians in power in cricket administration might not be quite cosying up to him. Needless to say, he has an unenviable task on his hands. He has spoken about defanging the bully that is Indian cricket that, along with England and Australia, had devised a plan last year to retain the lion’s share of the revenue. If he manages to bring in a more equitable sharing system, then the BCCI, which, as part of the Big Three, was expected to rake in around $568 million annually, will have to settle for a double-digit figure.

(Comment – this last part may be over-dramatic, but do not underestimate it. Domestic sports bodies the world over have little interest in the wide world outside. We have the Premier League as Exhibit A.)

Even if the new revenue is somehow deemed palatable by the old guard back home, they might stir up a rebellion of sorts if Manohar starts to clean up Indian cricket as per the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee. The suggestions of the Supreme Court-appointed committee are aimed at a comprehensive clean-up. Several important figures would have to quit cricket administration as they would not only be debarred by the age clause of 70 years but would be automatically disqualified by the limits imposed on tenure — cumulatively nine years and no successive terms allowed. Politicians and administrators don’t usually give up power easily.

If the Big Three is dismantled, and democracy replaces hegemony, the BCCI stands to lose money, which in turn would affect the generous cash flow to various local associations across the country. A recommendation as simple and rational as auditing and accounting for the money given to associations is likely to hit speed-breakers. In other words, the recommendations envisage a complete shake-up of the system — be it changing the way the associations and the BCCI are currently registered to the way the money is shared between them — and such overhauling is likely to alienate the BCCI chief from his colleagues in cricket administration. The job at hand isn’t going to be easy, considering the big names and powerful people involved. With the SC breathing down his neck, it will be interesting to see how Manohar responds.

A New Hope, maybe, but there is a lot to worry about still. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Rich businessmen didn’t become rich by giving away money. Powerful people don’t generally give up power easily. This is not a knock on India, but if they have the attitude of our own Giles Clarke, they’ll put the views of their board above those of the world game. That’s where we are. Especially when you are talking about immense amounts of money.

Please read TLG’s excellent “A New Hope” as a full view on this situation. I believe the above paints a more alarming picture.

UPDATE – Would also recommend this piece from the same organ on the tussles in India at the moment as the Supreme Court get involved in the governance at BCCI. http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/supreme-court-gets-stern-with-bcci-asks-it-to-implement-lodha-panel-recommendations/

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16 thoughts on “The Phantom Menace

  1. David Oram February 7, 2016 / 8:05 am

    The power and influence of the BCCI has been the no. 1 enemy of the greater good of world cricket for over a decade, driven as it is by modern deregulated India’s absolute corporate priority: the pursuit of money. The BCCI and IPL have successfully tempted and bought the top international players’ souls – and this has of course weakened the strength and finances of the smaller nations, and reinforced India’s control of the world game.
    The draw of the IPL’s riches was the cause of one of the early clashes between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen. He understandably as a professional sportsman wanted to maximise his potential earnings. Giles Clarke didn’t want the BCCI allowed to exercise such control, drawing the best English players towards them in the English season. He tried to find an alternative source of revenue. He found a Texan crook based out of Antigua with a perspex briefcase full of cash. Clarke’s ham-fisted solution merely delayed the inevitable and exacerbated tensions. I’m sure he blamed his hugely embarrassing failure as much on KP as he did Stanford and the BCCI.
    Further down the line the BCCI demanded a redistribution of world cricket’s wealth. ‘Give us more or we go our own way’. So (their mitigation to their subsequent act of treachery and collaboration was argued), England and Australia feared a split in world cricket and complied – taking a bigger slice of the pie at the same time. England and Australia got on the wrong side of the moral argument and need to jump the fence, even if that leaves India dangerously isolated, and angry.
    I felt then and still do that the right thing to do was to call India’s bluff. Let them go! It may have caused a rift, or even a division in world cricket – but isn’t that basically what we have anyway? T20 cricket and its apparent quick route to wealth is helping forge a schism in cricket between have and have nots, and the players of have not nations are surrendering their national identity, affiliation and patriotic duty to their people in pursuit of personal financial security and wealth. And the bigger nations are complicit in this pillaging through the T20 format.
    Many will naturally argue against this simplistic view of the IPL and T20 cricket. The point is not the format of the game, but the inappropriate false wealth that is created in one facet of the game to the detriment of others. Would we be as angry and concerned about the game if 4-day cricket was the big money-spinner, with players heading off for overseas domestic tournaments like the Ranji Trophy, Sheffield Shield or the County Championship rather than represent their country in less profitable T20 internationals? Yes, I think we would be equally concerned to see smaller nations pillaged of their best players, and any of the game’s formats be diminished because of the might of another.
    Thus it is not T20 cricket that undermines the game – it is the wealth that it generates – but as is indicated in the above article and elsewhere this is economic model is a house of cards, built upon sand. When it comes crashing down, the fallout will be toxic and will contaminate cricket for years to come. Until the money cricket generates is distributed more equitably then cricket’s most marketable players will necessarily migrate towards the greatest financial rewards. And as long as cricket’s administrations allow India to exercise that absolute control and influence things will not change. Until the rest of the world is brave enough to confront India things will stay shit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus February 7, 2016 / 3:59 pm

      David,

      Good to hear from you again. Hope things are going well.

      I’m sort of thinking, because it is hard to get an exact replica, that this mirrors some of the things going on in Spanish football right now. Barcelona and Real Madrid are so large, so all consuming, and so popular outside of Spain, that the Primera Liga is not really that important, but because they can attract the best, play the best, and pay the best, they will, 9 times out of 10 be sporting juggernauts. They aren’t going to give that up willingly in the interests of arming their neighbours, their rivals. They are going to entrench the TV rights deals, the cornerstone of the revenue generation, so that their importance is totally compensated and sod the rest. It’s not exactly like India, but it is as similar a model as I can come up with. When an English club secures a legendary player, eyes are drawn to playing for these clubs. Ronaldo at Manchester United (not even Ferguson could stop him), Suarez at Liverpool, Henry at Arsenal and even Bale at Spurs. Playing for these clubs paid even more than we did, got them into clubs more likely to win the major honours and burnished their CVs. That league is now a total distortion. 10-0, 7-0, Real Madrid up 5-0 at home in recent weeks. What the hell is this? Spare me the “Atletico are doing well” because that’s a smokescreen. It’s horrific, but I’ll tell you what, the players at the top clubs are doing very all right, and their stadia are well populated.

      What you have is the haves and have nots. It is happening in all major organised sports. It is just, in cricket, there is no meaningful multi-national club competition to run alongside the national sports (and believe me, in football, there WILL be a major clash between club and international football, and you can see it coming in 2022. If not then, then it won’t be long.)

      What we have to be careful of in England is to be too holier than thou. Requests to do the right thing aren’t going to be received well from an organisation as avaricious as the ECB, with a leader with the moral vacuum in terms of money, like Giles Clarke. What happens now needs brilliance, flair, foresight, diplomacy, contrition, dynamism, charisma, sympathy, pragmatism, and utmost skill. We’re sending in Giles. OMFG.

      Good luck with the podcast, and speak soon.

      Like

      • David Oram February 8, 2016 / 11:36 am

        Cheers, your Lordship!

        I think your football analogy is pretty spot-on. And I confess that I (I believe, like yourself) have entirely turned my back on football. I was a proud and committed Tottenham Hotspur season ticket holder (Ricky Villa received the ball from Tony Galvin just in front of where I was sitting near the Wembley touchline in ’81, and wandered off goalwards with it) – but no more.

        I finally gave in when the money got obscene (I can imagine some of these guys playing golf with investment bwankers) – and how can I identify with a team that has a different bunch of unknown Croatians each season? I don’t get it. But millions do – so clearly I am wrong.

        But I fear cricket is heading in the same direction.

        I savour the good times while I can, and dip increasingly into the past. You’ve got your 1980s copies of Wisden Cricket Monthly; I paw through copies of Red and Green Lillywhites (cheaper than old Wisden Almanacks).

        I am an unashamed old fart, and sadly have let go of my anger and just ‘sigh’. I admire your ability to retain your passion.

        Thanks for the best wishes re the podcast – I find that by focusing on the terrible plight of the WIndies that things in England are good by comparison.

        Keep up the good work, Sir!

        David

        Like

    • amit February 9, 2016 / 2:46 am

      While you make some valid points, i think it’s still simplistic view of the world.

      While disparity in finances play a role, let me be clear, without India, this game will not survive.

      It just doesn’t raise enough money outside for it to be a viable international sport. Sure you may have a few countries still able to afford it, but as an international sport, it will be dead. Buried. As a professional sport, you need an environment that can support professionals, their livelihood and aspirations for growth. The sportsmen also crave for audience. India has given crciketers both money and love in abundance. There is a reason, India generates the majority of world cricket’s revenue.
      You start talking about taking that away, the professional sport as we know it, will start to fall apart.

      As for the role of T20 / wealth it creates – just reflect fundamental laws of market economics. You could have said the same of our stock markets. It’s all in the expectations. If there’s no payoff, the sponsors go away. In India, some of the established names are already going away to other sports, given the negative publicity associated with Cricket in India for last couple of years. The onus is on the players and administrators to ensure that the game is managed well, else whatever wealth we see, will move away to other ventures. In a country starved of sporting success, Cricket was India’s best known game but Tennis, Kabaddi, Badminton and even Hockey leagues have sprung up in the last few years. They will never really become as big as Cricket has been, but the point is, that the key sponsors will find other viable options.

      BCCI has been integral to the world cricket making as much money as it does. If it weren’t for Dalmiya, we might not have had that big explosion in cricket economics 3 decades ago. So while expecting a bigger share can be considered malicious, the reality is that in a big country, creating and maintaining a big sporting infrastructure also costs money. For all its flaws, and there are surely plenty, BCCI has helped extend cricket to tier 2 cities and has built infrastructure in remote parts of the country.

      I am with Shashank Manohar on the need to rectify the mistakes of last year and half (the Big three stitch up and all that) but the principle of higher allocation stands. This is not, and has never been an altruistic society. There are no free lunches.
      Some countries will produce talent but not have the money to support it. A professional will find another way.It used to be the county cricket earlier and is IPL now. I would love to see the foreign professional play Ranji or other longer forms of domestic cricket, but with these forms often being a part of the feeder system for national teams, it is quite difficult. One doesn’t want another Kolpak system in other countries.

      Sure there are plenty of problems in the world cricket, but to pin it all on BCCI, as you seem to have done, is just plain wrong.

      BCCI didn’t create the problems for WICB or Zimbabwe or Pakistan or Sri Lanka. There are broader issues of mismanagement (WICB / Zim), financially nonviable domestic cricket (SL), political uncertainty (Pak) that have been responsible for the problems in those countries. They have lost their voices in international arena by losing their credibility and not just by being poor.
      They have lost players by proving time and again that the boards were not treating their players properly (WICB).

      BCCI / IPL has given these guys an opportunity to continue plying the trade, make money and keep fans happy. Whether this is the sole reason making their national squads weaker is questionable. It really is.

      I can sense a fan’s frustration in seeing cricket go the same way as football where club takes priority over national squads. I am with you on that.
      But, this is no longer a game played for entertainment alone. It is serious business with professionals looking to make a living. If only it were managed professionally across all countries, we wouldn’t be debating the structures and the role played by one board.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David Oram February 9, 2016 / 10:12 am

        Amit, thank you for replying!

        I’m afraid I couldn’t disagree with you more than I do.
        Yes, Indian money has made the modern game, and made it wealthy beyond its former self, but I don’t think that’s a good thing.

        I think the game would be financially poorer and morally richer without the appalling, corrupting influence of potential great wealth.

        The game has been great in the past without affluence.

        If the financial model collapses (which is not inconceivable – let’s agree Indian TV money could go elsewhere; it’s also not beyond comprehension that Sky TV could go bankrupt), then cricket would cease to be what it currently is, and would cease to offer its best players a potentially very lucrative career. But it is unlikely that would kill it.

        At worst, it would return to being a game rather than a (mega) sport. Many of those that love it deeply now would continue to do so. Yes, many consumers would go – but I’m not convinced that such an eventuality would be a bad thing.

        The game would continue to be played and enjoyed and watched by those who cherish it. It may not continue as an advertising vehicle for Indian deodorants, or to fund Chris Gayle’s extension of his indoor strip club. But, so what?

        Let’s be realistic – that extreme is not going to happen. There is a HUGE gap between that situation eventuating and what we have now. My moral argument is that the rest of the world should say ‘no’ to India more often (and England and Australia too) and make the cricket landscape an improved and better, and fairer place.

        What’s the worst that can happen? And even if it should be so, I don’t think that the worst we can imagine is something that we should fear or that would kill the great game – just kill its greed.

        Regards

        David

        Like

      • Mark February 9, 2016 / 10:53 am

        I agree with you David.

        England and Australia’s stance to throw ther lot in with India was done out of cowardice rather than principle. They wanted part of the gravy train, and saw away of still bossing the sport for their own ends. The fact they sold their souls seems lost on them. They sold out the other nations of cricket because they were terrified of being outside the tent too.

        Also, whenever they moan about India it is priceless because it shows they have effectively no power whithin the so called big 3. It’s the big one, with a couple of patsys. India needed to be stood up too. Yes they have all the money, but they need some one to play against. If they won’t abide by the rules then they don’t get to play.

        Unfortunately an easy $ and a quiet life was the path England chose to go down.

        Too many people who run sport want a winner takes all financial model. But sport is not a supermarket model. In sport the whole thing revolves around a contest. If there is no contest because one side has all the money there is no spectacle. In the home of winner take all capitalist society THE U.S. their sports model is not run on that basis. They realise you will just have the same team winning so it will kill the golden goose. The big 3 cynically decided to kill off all competion to them using money as their weapon. And now they realise they are in the shit?

        Like

      • amit February 9, 2016 / 11:49 am

        David,
        Thanks for taking time to read a long post 🙂

        The day sport moved from amateurs to professionals, greed set in. It is not a new phenomenon. Every sport has seen it happen. Tennis, Boxing, Football, Cricket have all seen it. I may not like it because it takes away the charm we tend to associate with amateurs but this is a reality. I accept it.
        Better money being paid to players that are perceived as valuable or skilled is then natural as a result of the professional setup. Every era has had its set of paymasters. Decades ago, one good could survive as a professional by playing in the county circuit and also hone skills better. IPL does something similar even if one concedes that there are a few unwanted side effects.

        I haven’t read any authoritative study on this, but fairly certain that the Kolpak rule has also enabled professional sportsman to make a living while ditching their national careers.
        Cricket has seen this happen. Hasn’t it?
        Do we call that greed or a desire to live a certain way? I am not sure there’s an easy answer to the question. But I will say that money in sports in never really bad. If the sportsman benefits financially, should the fans grudge?
        Strong Governance structures are required to ensure there’s no arm twisting of member nations but reality is that those in power will always have a stronger voice than those who crave it.
        One can hardly expect the ICC to be a beacon of hope. It never has been.
        Unfair, i know but that’s life.

        Like

  2. nonoxcol February 7, 2016 / 6:30 pm

    Sequel to that tweet from a couple of days ago:

    Admit it, you’re all shocked, shocked by that guest list, aren’t you?

    Like

    • MM February 7, 2016 / 7:18 pm

      “A Flower also on very good form”

      What is he, a feckin’ race horse?

      Andy Flower.. at a party… wow. You gotta love a party with a happy atmosphere.

      Like

    • SimonH February 7, 2016 / 10:09 pm

      Is that photo another of those ones taken just seconds after Agnew had been in a blazing row with Giles Clarke?

      Like

    • amit February 9, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      Love these photos from time to time. There’s certainly nothing scandalous about them!
      Can you remind me again who was the decent, impartial fellow who posted them? 😉

      Like

  3. Mark February 7, 2016 / 10:58 pm

    Spare me any shit from S Custus. Him and his brother are the Ant and Dec of football reporting, a couple of weeks ago they had him on The Sumday supplement because he was the journo that the Man U manager called fat.

    So we had the usual media storm of bullshit. They pretended it was no big dealand that they would laugh off. While all the time having it as the lead story. Then we got the usual fatuous fake concern. Suppose it had been a woman journalist? Would it be appropriate to call her fat?

    It was a classic of media smoke and mirrors. Make a non story about them the most important story, and then claim it isn’t important while clutching pearls of out rage about what it could have been.

    There nothing the hold the back page generation like more than being the story.

    Like

  4. Mark February 7, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    I find it bizarre that Clarke invites all these journos to his 60 th brithday party. Why?

    Why would you want to celebrate your birthday with a bunch of journalists?. I guess we just don’t understand how these things work. Maybe, but in my view it looks terrible.

    Like

    • nonoxcol February 7, 2016 / 11:12 pm

      Certainly a bit harder to pass off than the golf day was. Hope Tregaskis has seen these tweets.

      Like

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