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South African Cricket - sold to the BCCI for 30 Pieces of Silver

10 February 2014, 15:03
Several weeks ago, a committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) published a "position paper" that would seek to alter the shift in the administration of the world game.

Essentially, since India vs Anybody is the biggest financial money-spinner in cricket, with England vs Australia for the Ashes a distant second, it was determined that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) would form a triumvirate, the so-called "big three", to oversee the game, its revenues and the disbursement of grants to the other nations.

World cricket differed somewhat from the administration of (e.g.) football and rugby, in that the big ten boards, the so-called "test-playing nations" sat at the top table, with the remaining countries, "associate members", playing a secondary role. A tiny minority making decisions on behalf of the majority, whilst providing no mechanism for the development of associates where they may progress to the top tier. What does that remind you of?

In essence though, since Saturday, control of the world game has been fragmented into various chunks. The executive committee will comprise the big three, plus two other boards, on rotation.

Financially, provision is made for a "test fund". Thus, the big three will take their large slices of the cake as planned, just for being the big three, and the rest will go to the six lowest-ranked teams. The arithmetically astute will note that 3 + 6 equals 9, whereas there are 10 test-playing nations. Yessir, South Africa receives nothing for being "number four" in the big three, if you get what I'm saying, and it is number one in tests, so it receives nothing from the test fund. Booyah. In this fashion, it will be beholden to the financial benevolence of the ICC (read "BCCI") forever.

Admittedly, some compromises have been made. A Future Tours Programme will continue to be used, tours arranged bilaterally, though little has been said about series which are regarded by everyone as "not viable [financially]", e.g. Zimbabwe vs West Indies or New Zealand vs Bangladesh. But a system aimed at elevating one of the nearly-there teams to test status now exists, and that is a good thing. (India would do well to remember that it took 20 years and 24 outings to record their first test win.)

At this point, it is instructive to look at some of the side shows. Srinivasan, the bloke in charge of the BCCI, and due to assume the chairmanship of the ICC in 2014, until democratic elections take place in 2017, is a borderline psychopath. On his watch: (1) India refuses to play in accordance with the Decision Review System, when the rest of the world sees it as a great thing, in removing shockers from the game. (2) India refuses to sign up for World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) protocols, which means that the ICC as a whole cannot do so either, and the scope for doping is vast. (3) Spread betting remains rife, and with this, the credibility of matches and whole tournaments is often questionable.

Then there's the small matter of the erstwhile head of Cricket SA operations, the CEO. We all now know that Gerald Majola was found to have run a bonus scheme on the quiet, for having hosted a successful IPL on behalf of the BCCI. He had earlier been adamant that no bonuses were ever paid. And, he refused to make available the contracts between the BCCI and CSA. So Gerald, a Srinivasan man through and through (he was invited to watch Sachin's last match), was fired, and in his place came Haroon Lorgat.

Mr Lorgat is a chartered accountant, and known to be ruthlessly strict on clean governance. In his capacity as head of the ICC, he had already clashed with the BCCI, regarding the integrity of IPL finances, as well as India's illegal manipulation of the FTP. Ironically, instead of investigating the BCCI, as soon as Mr Lorgat returned to SA to take up the position as CEO of CSA, the ICC, prodded on by the BCCI set up a committee to investigate whether or not Mr Lorgat had overstepped his authority!

It is my strident view that the curtailment of the Indian tour of South Africa, and the concurrent "suspension" of Haroon Lorgat for the duration of that tour, was to teach CSA a lesson. Go against Srini and the BCCI, and we'll have you broke in less than a season.

So, back to the present. The ICC released its position paper, and CSA howled with outrage. Clearly we were being led to the slaughter, and a few individuals were going to become obscenely rich. But there appeared to be a glimmer of hope. ICC rules required eight of the test-playing nations to vote 'Yes' to bring about a sea change in the ICC operating model, and with Sri Lanka and Pakistan already opposed to the model (they would abstain in the Singapore vote), South Africa could scuttle the proposal with a 'No' vote.

Enter Srini and the big bad BCCI again... threats of withdrawal from ICC events, including the next World Cup, and with India out, a significant reduction in the value of TV rights, should any major board go against the proposal.

At this juncture, sane heads took over within CSA... cricket is a major employer in SA, directly and indirectly. Going against the BCCI / ICC would result in a significant reduction in CSA income, and retrenchments from CSA, its affiliates, sponsors, suppliers and others, would surely follow.

If it sounds like I'm applauding CSA, I assure you, I am not. I feel betrayed by CSA howling outrage the one week, and meekly voting 'Yes' a week later. It's just so bloody unfair.

I had planned to attend this week's test at Supersport Park, but will now be boycotting. I urge all like-minded fans to do likewise. To all those fans who have tickets, and will be in attendance, it would make my heart swell with pride if you could make up banners to let CSA (and CA) know how we feel.

Cost of a cricket board - 30 pieces of silver

Long-term damage to the game - priceless

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