Mind Games: CSA’s response to India’s bullying has been timid

2013-10-08 10:00

You could perhaps have believed it in the glorified days of the British Empire, when posh English school sports that had spread around the commonwealth were formed into international controlling bodies, but certainly not in this day and age.

The current standoff between national cricket authorities of South Africa and India over the itinerary for what was believed to be a scheduled (and highly anticipated) tour of South Africa and the arrogant behaviour of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) defies belief.

Incredible that a member of a union can be behaving as the Indians are, and implausible that other affiliates of the International Cricket Council (ICC) can be quite so lily-livered.

It is well chronicled that the BCCI is said to be unhappy with the decision by Cricket SA (CSA) to appoint former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat as its chief executive.

Lorgat allegedly stood up to the Indian board on certain issues during his stint with the ICC, and the Indian board even tried to discourage CSA from hiring him.

India’s stance is said to be driven by what looks to be the egotistical and self-serving determination of their board’s BCCIpresident to settle an old score.

India, it appears, like the US in world affairs, can behave in this dictatorial manner because with the vast numbers who worship the game in their country, they are immensely wealthy and thus hold the financial clout without which world cricket would collapse.

CSA’s response to India’s bullying has been timid to say the least, and there have even been suggestions that South Africa should have bowed to the demands of the rajahs of cricket and not appointed Lorgat.

Given the wrangling that CSA has recently had to endure, this is perhaps understandable – barely – but it is astonishing that the members of the ICC are permitting such rogue behaviour.

Cricket is a seriously endangered game, with two of its 10 Full Members (Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) hardly deserving of the status, one member (Pakistan) unable to play test series in their own country, one former powerhouse (the West Indies) constantly in need of intensive care and one other (New Zealand) whose ability to compete with the top sides is cyclical at best – but that is no reason to allow one country to assume an autocracy.

South Africa, one of the founding members, with England and Australia, of what used to be grandly called the Imperial Cricket Conference, has always been extremely competitive and currently possesses the best exponents of the purest form of the game – five-day test matches.

It is unacceptable that these fine players should be forced into what amounts to a state of limbo.

Where do England, Australia, Sri Lanka and the rest stand on this issue?

Should they not stiffen their backs, raise their voices at the ICC and tell the Indians where to get off?

Of course they should.

It would be unheard of for one of the top sides in world football – Brazil, Spain or Germany – to defy Fifa in terms of arranging fixtures, and equally the All Blacks would not be able to give the International Rugby Board the finger about preferred foes.

There is a bit of give-and-take – the need to arrange matches between superpowers and seed these teams in international tournaments because of the funds such matches generate – but it will all be governed by the world bodies.

Instead of South Africa’s fellows in the ICC turning a blind eye to India’s tyranny, they should insist that the Indian board honours its commitments or refuse to play against India.

And with no-one to play against, thus no seething crowds and rich TV companies to keep the funds flowing, India would jump back in line and “play the game”.

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