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.

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46 thoughts on “Cash, Money, Lucre, Power, Influence…

  1. Mark September 7, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    By all accounts when Darwins theory of evolution was published in the late 19th century many people were left almost bereft of something they had taken for granted. The Times ran a editorial saying maybe it would have better if it hadn’t been published at all. People took to venturing to the coasts to look for fossils in the cliffs.

    I bring this up because that is close to my relationship with sport. It has been a huge part of my life for nearly 50 years. I am not stupid enough to view those fifty odd years through rose tinted glasses. But sport to mean anything needs to matter. And increasingly it doesn’t matter. As you say it’s only purpose is to generate money. End of! Last week on 5 live Monday night football on transfer deadline day there was a football agent who I believe is respected, and has written a book. Apparently many contracts are now having bonus cash for staying on the field a certain amount of time. Watch for players being subbed before 75 minutes he claimed. Great, just another reason why football doesn’t matter.

    But as the game becomes less important the money gets even more ludicrous. Sport reduced to light entertainment. When the product on the field is of no importance I don’t care how much money it makes. It’s getting time to walk away. I feel like those poor Christians when Darwin pulled away the curtain. There are no solutions because money is the new religion. Two average sides who happen to generate mountains of cash are more important than better sides who make no money. Batting & bowling averages are now secondary to cash receipts.

    Like

    • Mark September 7, 2016 / 11:12 pm

      At what point can we call it a bribe?

      Like

  2. oreston September 8, 2016 / 4:44 am

    While I really do agree that things can’t (and ultimately won’t – regardless of what the administrators say) go on as they are, I’m not at all certain that the two-tier proposal would’ve “saved” test cricket. Certainly not if you define “test cricket” as necessarily including all the existing full ICC member nations, because I’m not sure how much the proposed structure would really have benefited those teams who are already struggling severely. All the reasons why the longest form of the game is in the doldrums (incompetent / irresponsible boards, bad national and global governance, inequitable allocation of resources, the IPL, changing public tastes…) would still exist.

    I’m not convinced the “context” argument really stands up. Just as it’s hard to believe in a World in which England, Australia or India would actually be relegated, I find it equally difficult to envisage a side in frightening long-term decline (like Windies) or one which has never come into its own at all (like Bangladesh) suddenly kicking on and pushing for promotion. Their existing challenges and limitations would still be with them and, if anything, formally shunting them into a second tier (as opposed to the virtual one that I agree they’re already in) where they would have had to contend not only with each other but with hungry well-organised newcomers like Ireland and Afghanistan would just as likely have been be a prelude to them throwing in the towel completely. Would an already (in some countries) disengaged sporting public turn out in greater numbers to watch what would inevitably be perceived as a second string competition?

    I absolutely believe that the best of the Associate members deserve their chance to play tests, but tinkering with the structure of test cricket while leaving everything else around it as it was would in my view hardly have made for a more certain future. It could just as easily simply have speeded-up the decline in those countries which are currently most vulnerable. “The survival of the fittest” doesn’t strike me as a great approach to growing the game, although I do fear that a Darwinian winnowing-out of the weakest is what will probably happen anyway unless something changes radically in the next few years.

    Liked by 3 people

    • SimonH September 8, 2016 / 8:24 am

      Oreston, how would you give the best associates the chance to play Test cricket? Currently there is no pathway for them at all. Also, can they just be added to the existing rota when there’s too much cricket already?

      I can see Bangladesh pushing on – they have great potential and mainly need regular fixtures. Afghanistan’s recent rise was partly a result of more fixtures and they’ve improved significantly as a result.

      The WI are the team that everyone keeps mentioning. It must be clear that I have tremendous affection for the old WI team. But their decline has been going on for decades and is getting worse. The current system, with its lack of serious consequences for failure, has got them where they are. WI troubles can’t all be put down to lack of money as they receive much more than the associates. The recent series against India was just an embarrassment. The WICB are reportedly in favour of two divisions as well (although with their murky board politics, who knows what their reasons are?).

      Where I would agree is that two divisions on its own isn’t a magic bullet. On its own, I’d agree that it has the potential to be a device to narrow the pool of Test-playing nations. It needs to be accompanied by revenue-pooling and by measures to enable teams not to be so dependent on ICC handouts (which is where the Olympics comes in because of the government support it would unlock). There also needs to be voting reform at the ICC so a handful of nations can’t vote these measures out of existence.

      The proposal on the table was a long way from my ideal – but it was a move in the right direction IMO.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston September 8, 2016 / 12:55 pm

        How would I bring in the Associate members? Look, I can pick holes in things, but I don’t necessarily have the answers 🙂

        It wouldn’t be worth doing at all unless the Associates were guaranteed meaningful, regular fixtures. So I think that (while a two-tier structure per se might not have been the answer) there does need to be some sort of international oversight of the schedule to ensure that every test side plays every other test side both home and away with an agreed frequency. A world cup of test cricket (perhaps consisting of a group phase which could perhaps be accommodated within the regular international schedule, followed by a more concentrated knockout phase) might be worth looking at.

        I think a big part of the problem is the way in which national boards (particularly the richer ones) are allowed to shape things to suit their own less than noble interests. This is just as true of limited overs as of test cricket – ECB don’t exactly go out of their way to engage with Ireland, do they? There also, manifestly, needs to be a more equitable financial settlement for the Associates and the poorer full ICC members. Their professional players need to be incentivised to make a career in Test/first class cricket and to be less tempted by the glitz and big bucks of the IPL, Big Bash etc.

        No other major sport is organised like cricket currently is, but vested interests (as we’ve just seen with India) are unlikely to want to dispense with the goose that lays the golden egg. Unfortunately then, I don’t see anything I’ve suggested above happening anytime soon.

        Like

  3. Rooto September 8, 2016 / 6:49 am

    Good post, but I have a question. I must be missing a piece of the jigsaw. I see why the ECB prefer India tours, because of the enormous price they get for overseas broadcast rights. But why would Sky care? Whoever watches more in the UK is good for them, isn’t it? Don’t Pakistan rival India, in terms of numbers in Britain?
    What have I misunderstood?

    Like

  4. Mark September 8, 2016 / 9:42 am

    Whether you agree or disagree with 2 divisions the most worrying aspect of this for me is it is clear that India will still hold veto power on almost everything. If they don’t want it he ain’t happening.. This means that all the talk of the end of the big 3 is rubbish. There is, and probably always has been only the big 1.

    Giles Clark and the ACB could delude themselves that they had a say, but really they were just the midget who used to hang around with the bully and demand the kids sweets, knowing he was always protected by the bully. Cricket is so beholden to Indias cash that India makes the rules. (Who pays the piper calls the tune).

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 8, 2016 / 11:04 am

      My genuine belief is that this is the case. Those saying that “not a good enough case was put” may be right. But if India wanted two divisions the proposal could have been handwritten on toilet paper and been passed.

      Like

      • SimonH September 8, 2016 / 11:29 am

        Agreed on the power of the BCCI – I’d like to know the last thing the ICC did that the BCCI were against? Can anyone think of what it might have been?

        I would caution against writing “India” when meaning the BBCI – they are no more India than the ECB are “England”. Indian cricket fans are as much on the receiving end of much of what goes on with the BCCI as the rest of us.

        The point about “beholden to India’s cash” is one that needs questioning. Firstly, the claim that India raises 70-80% of ICC revenue appeared in a 2014 ICC document with no substantiation. (I’m not doubting it’s a high figure though). Secondly, cricket has been run to squeeze more money from existing revenue streams. As that means mainly the Indian TV market and the Ashes, of course they are going to raise most of the money. Other revenue streams (like from Olympic status and the creation of a Test championship) have been choked off. In part, this is just lack of vision and in part it feels a deliberate strategy to keep other members dependent on hand-outs. I’m not saying these other revenue streams don’t also have problems and I’m not deluding myself that they will all necessarily bring mega-bucks – but I am saying India’s financial dominance is not natural nor inevitable.

        In the end, there’s also the point Manohar grasped and Thakur appears not to, that India need someone to play against.The idea that the BCCI are going to pull up the drawbridge and just play internal competitions (like the US in baseball) isn’t going to happen.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 8, 2016 / 11:38 am

          Posting on phone while horrendously busy in breaks isn’t conducive to depth!

          Like

      • Mark September 8, 2016 / 12:54 pm

        I agree with you Simon about them needing someone to play against. It is something that should always be remembered when ever any sporting giant is threatening to break away. It’s like when Manchester United start talking about super leagues. Fans like rivalries and many of them are old. Do Man U fans really want to be play Paris every other week? It’s why I hated the way Giles Clark ran up the White flag so quickly.

        The problem is India have both the international and the privatised cricket world stitched up. If they wanted to not only could they finacially survive on domestic cricket they also have the IPL. They could stop players from other country’s playing. Or certainly reduce the numbers. In time this would back fire, but by then almost everyone else would have gone broke or would be very poor.

        You do have to wonder what is the point of Dave Richardson? Or rather the position he holds. When he is interviewed sometimes by Aggers he might as well answer by saying…”I refer you to whatever the BCCI has told me.”

        Like

  5. SimonH September 8, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    #39’s Twitter today is like a campaign for city-franchises. Sample:

    Quoting “an ECB survey” that he can’t provide a link to, and appears to know nothing about except some selected stats that happen to support the ECB’s case (but which could also be used to support some other arguments – but that’s not where #39 wants to go), is just the sort of analysis we’ve come to expect from The Analyst.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) September 8, 2016 / 9:09 pm

      Hmmm, wonder if White saw the survey before he quoted it as a fact in his DT article this afternoon?

      Like

    • Mark September 8, 2016 / 9:44 pm

      Once again Hughes is pushing the ECB agenda. He is not a journalist and he is not a anaylist. He is a pusher of ECB policies.

      I don’t follow this too closely but what is the official position of Middx county cricket club on city cricket? I bet I can guess, seeing as they have the number one venue in the biggest city. And surprise surprise Hughes is pushing that agenda.

      And this clown wants to lecture about unbiased reporting. FRAUD.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tregaskis September 9, 2016 / 8:55 am

      When challenged about support for or merit in a city-based T20 cricket competition, Simon Hughes’s response on Twitter yesterday was “it works in Oz.”

      But condemning the Blast for not matching the success of the Big Bash is a false conceit, as Simon Hughes must know. The BBL has two massive advantages that no T20 completion in England can ever match:

      (1) a climate heaven made for cricket;

      (2) Australia’s demographics are defined by its concentration in a small number of very large conurbations. The five biggest represent 65% of Australia’s total population. The BBL franchises are based in these five joined by Hobart, the number #11 city, but still Tasmania’s largest. Unsurprisingly, the six Sheffield Shield teams are also based in these six cities, and play out of the same grounds. There is no conflict between state allegiances and city franchises.

      There are two other key differences, but the ECB has decided not to adopt (in any meaningful way) these BBL choices:

      (3) The BBL is broadcast on FTA television;

      (4) The Sheffield Shield takes a mid-winter break to accommodate the BBL, so there is no conflict between the two competitions. The proposed UK city-based T20 competition will run concurrently with the county championship and the retained Blast. This will represent a major challenge to the counties, who will lose their top players, and have to compete with a heavily marketed franchise competition for ticket-paying fans and broadcast exposure. Counties based at Test grounds will be forced to play at out grounds during July.

      Simon Hughes did not respond to my post drawing attention to these differences. While he is right that city-based T20 teams “work in Oz,” he is totally wrong to use this to predict a similar success in England or to justify the ECB proposals.

      Liked by 2 people

      • @pktroll September 9, 2016 / 9:18 am

        Very good points overall, our congested season is also a big complication.

        If I can be a little facetious though? More first class cricket at out-grounds in July. You never know that perhaps a few cricket lovers in smaller towns might like the idea of cricket on their doorstep rather than in the big city. It could catch on. Always liked watching cricket at out-grounds me. However some of you might think that is a little old skool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • BoredInAustria September 9, 2016 / 11:40 am

        Great … eh … analysis..

        Like

  6. "IronBalls" McGinty September 8, 2016 / 9:52 pm

    Half the kids post 2005 couldn’t even spell cricket methinks? Alarming?? I’ll say!!

    Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty September 8, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      Invisibilty brings it’s challenges I guess?

      Like

    • Mark September 8, 2016 / 10:45 pm

      Notice how it has become a self fulfilling agenda.

      1 Take cricket off free to air, and say how brilliant it is.
      2 Claim it doesn’t matter that nobody is watching
      3 Become concerned that nobody is watching
      4 Push City francise as a way of getting Young people interested in cricket
      5 ignore fact it will also been on pay per view.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. "IronBalls" McGinty September 8, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    So….Harrison’s mate has undervalued the T20 Blast, and overvalued the City based franchise thingy….why are we not surprised?
    There is corporate malevolence here, lies, and utter bullshit….these bastards sicken me, tbey really do!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Adam H September 9, 2016 / 7:55 am

    Seems like City-based franchise T20 is inevitable now, with the £2m bribe convincing the counties that were originally against it. It’s a huge shame. But that battle has been lost. We need to get over it, and instead focus on having at least a portion of that franchise T20 on free-to-air TV.

    Like

  9. SimonH September 9, 2016 / 8:20 am

    How long before the first “Morgan wants to play for Ireland” story appears?

    Like

    • SimonH September 9, 2016 / 10:32 am

      If there’s an England career to be consigned to the trash heap, guess who can be relied upon to turn up early with his shovel:

      And two pages devoted to how England’s future is safe with Andrew Strauss!

      Like

      • Mark September 9, 2016 / 12:15 pm

        The cricket paper is just bog roll. Only use is to wipe your arse with it. Only difference is instead of getting a pretty little puppy on the packing you get the hideous face of Pringle.

        Strauss “who this week warned players they would be risking their places if they did not travel.”
        Must be so nice to know you can “trust” your boss, particularly as he has made “trust” a big part of being in team ENGLAND.

        If a player chooses not to tour for personal reasons he is taking a risk that someone will replace him, then and do well. But that is very different from the management holding a grudge, and then saying it will count against him. That’s is the worst form of bullying. Who knew that Strauss was a bully? I thought he had read all the self help managment speak books about motivating your staff.

        Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH September 9, 2016 / 12:29 pm

        It’s Britain’s biggest selling cricket newspaper! It’s a crowded market that, but somehow they’ve come out on top.

        I’d love some info on TCP. Who owns it? What are its sales? How much money does it make/lose? When did it last publish anything remotely critical of the ECB? How absorbent is it?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. SimonH September 9, 2016 / 8:24 am

    He’s at it again this morning:

    I thought the kids didn’t watch TV anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy September 9, 2016 / 10:14 am

      there is just the small fact that the ECB will try and grab all the moneys and lock it up on Sky

      Like

    • Mark September 9, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      WTF is he talking about? He has just given over a two page spread in The Cricketer magazine to allow Giles Clark to boast about how great it was that he sold the rights to Sky. Now Hughes is using cyclings fta covergae as an example.

      A fatuous example because cycling is an individual sport that people can do either on their own, or with their family, or with a club. He might as well site X factor, strictly come dancing, or bake off.

      Like

  11. SimonH September 9, 2016 / 8:38 am

    And then there’s this:

    Ten years! (NDAs = Non Disclosure Agreements I’m assuming….).

    Like

    • Mark September 9, 2016 / 12:28 pm

      Sounds like TPC and all these dodgy free tade treaties which arent really free trade agreements at all, but massive corporate opt outs of nations legal systems. What is it the politicians like to say when they bring in more survilence of out freedoms?

      Oh yes, if you have nothing to hide you got nothing to fear. What is the ECB hiding, and why are they so fearful it gets out? Shame we haven’t got a crack squad of media reporters trying to get the story instead of sucking up to the organisation they should be covering.

      Like

  12. Zephirine September 9, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    If Morgan does decide not to go, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
    He can give good reasons for not going, based on personal experience.
    He seems generally pretty resistant to being bullied – perhaps less insecure than some, and it’s a different world now, if England do subsequently screw him over, he can make a good living in T20.
    Informed opinion gives him a lot of the credit for the turnaround in the one-day side’s fortunes.
    Cook still resentful?
    How well would Buttler do as captain?
    Hmmm….

    Like

  13. nonoxcol September 9, 2016 / 4:13 pm

    In case anyone hasn’t been notified yet, James of TFT has been chatting with Nasser Hussain. Full report on his website. Tregaskis will like his answer to one specific question… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. nonoxcol September 9, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    Selvey rates ECB security officers just as highly as he rates their medical staff.

    I know this is “dog bites man” territory, but just in case anyone thought the words “was it me?” might have occurred to *him* in his dotage.

    Like

  15. SimonH September 9, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    George Dobell on episode 10 about the ICC and the ECB:

    https://onestumpshort.wordpress.com/

    Absolute must-listen – the stuff about the ECB and Sky, for example, is withering.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 9, 2016 / 9:52 pm

      Absolutely agree. He makes it clear there’s only one broadcaster in town.

      Like

  16. SimonH September 9, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    Newman has written on the Morgan decision. It’s not as bad as you might have thought.

    It’s worse.

    Like

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