Cash, Money, Lucre, Power, Influence…

I think Jarrod Kimber’s Twitter feed spoke volumes last night….

You can read the rest. Jarrod lets the BCCI and Anurag Thakur have it with both barrels.

Here at Being Outside Cricket, well especially me, I bow to Simon H when it comes to matters of ICC and world administration. It’s tough to keep up with the machinations of our press and ECB goings on without keeping an eye on what is happening in the international game. But what we all know is that India control the game – and Indian fans save your admonishment because this is realpolitik not some cosy fancy “good for the game” nonsense that I’m fed by people who want more of my cash to be able to watch the sport we all love. For that’s what this is all about. As Gideon Haigh says, what are fans other than something to be monetised? Sport has always been about money and entrenching power. The “product” on the field is a definite second.

But hey, you say, if the product is rubbish then no-one will watch? Well, yes, to a degree. I happen to think that “modern football” of the last 20 or so years, while technically much better, is far less exciting. It’s why I don’t go to my team any more – I was bored watching defensive, fearful football, with losing more feared than winning enjoyed – and yet the Premier League is doing better (supposedly) than ever in the money stakes. India have the IPL – I really couldn’t tell you who won it, was it Bangalore? – and it rakes in a fortune. The Indian national team is a money printing machine, and while they have the cash they do not have one vote on the table. They have THE vote.

We can sit here and moan all we like. This is the real world. We have ONE jewel in the crown – our team plays a massively lucrative series against Australia – but non-India years in the accounts are not good. We’ll see how down they are when we get the next season’s accounts, but revenue was well down in 2015 from 2014, and that was from India to Australia, and they are bound to be a lot worse compared to 2015. Money men, and it’s usually men, who run cricket, don’t tend to do altruism, and in many cases don’t take a long-term view.

One thing with the Giles Clarke interview in The Cricketer is that where there is lots of plaudits on himself for securing a lucrative TV contract without which the professional game in this country could not have survived – his words – he has seen a growth in international player’s wages in the UK which has not been matched by a growth in the game itself. You only have to look at clubs in my area merging or folding (our team did because we had no younger players, and the constant strife the counties put themselves in while paying players money they can’t afford. It’s come to the point where the game in England depends on whether a TV company is going to pony up the money to pay for it. At some point the sports rights market is going to be saturated and people won’t pay any more. Take the fact the US Open tennis has been dropped by Sky, for the cost, I read, of ONE Premier League fixture. Cricket better not be still standing when the music stops and the chairs are all taken.

It’s OK for us diehards to say “that Pakistan series was great and we should have more of them” because Sky don’t want that stiff. They’d have Australia and India alternating if they had their way. They’d have an IPL in England if they had their way. And that’s the issue for us, and increasingly on a global scale. TV calls the tune, and more importantly, Indian TV money (not influence, as the way they are advised to broadcast shows the power the BCCI holds) does, and that’s a lot of money.

There were a lot of rumblings when Shashank Manohar swept on the scene, stopped Giles becoming the head of the ICC, made some very nice international noises which were in contrast to Srinavasan, that all wasn’t all it seemed. A number of the constituent parts of the BCCI weren’t so keen on hearing about THEIR revenue being nicely shared around the world for the “good of the game”. I could just imagine out constituent Premier League clubs doing just the same – a bit like how the top boys react when the Champions League is being reformed, The top boys want the riches for themselves. The assured cash flow. To hell with fairness and competition.

Now, it appears, at the ICC council that the Indian board aren’t going to be as fulsome in their altruism as we first thought. Part of me says why the hell should we. If we were in their shoes, we wouldn’t be. If any part of this impinged on counties, we’d have no chance of changing the rules. So don’t be slagging India off for doing what we would do.

Two division test cricket would only have worked if we truly believe England, India or Australia would have been allowed to be relegated. If you believe that, then you should check the bottom of the garden for fairies. Cricket is bankrolled by India, so what they say will pretty much go. The IPL has pretty much destroyed, if it needed much help, test cricket in the West Indies as it always clashes with their season. The best West Indian players get to “choose” whether to earn a reasonably small sums in an uncompetitive team on dreary wickets in the Caribbean, or pocket a small fortune in playing in a competitive if ultimately relatively meaningless “league” in India. That’s tough. Don’t spend too long thinking about it.

The game is run for naked self-interest. We got angry, rightfully so, and we should never not get angry, at this. Of course we do. We’re bloody diehards. But we aren’t who boards care about. We’re the ones taken for granted that we’ll still be there when it all falls apart. We’ll still cough up our Sky Subs, our match tickets, even our memberships just to watch the game.

I hope Simon will write a piece on the meeting – if not, I’m sure he’ll comment – but the ICC haven’t surprised me in the slightest, and I’ll bet deep down they’ve not surprised Jarrod, Sam, Gideon, and all those others out there who railed against the machine. What they have done is make things a little less comfortable, but when there’s money to be made, and cash and power to be invested in themselves, personally, now, I’m afraid mere diehards can go do one…..

Just listened to the Ugra clip on Cricinfo headlined “BCCI standing with the “small guys”. Really? REALLY? Because they are voting against a two-tier system when they themselves virtually operate one themselves (no tests against Bangladesh at home until the FIRST one in Spring next year). I’m sorry, you’ll have to come up with a better rationale than that.