After fierce objections by the BCCI office bearers over the wordings in its global strategy paper describing over-dependence of the sport on Indian cricket market, the International Cricket Council did a U-turn on its original content and change the wordings from it being a weakness to strength.
A three-member ICC delegation led by its chief executive officer David Richardson, after a meeting with the Committee of Administrators and the office bearers in New Delhi, discussed issues related to threats, challenges, strengths and weaknesses facing the game globally. Acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary conveyed India’s objections to ICC chairman Shashank Manohar over telephone this morning. CoA chairperson Vinod Rai, member Diana Edulji, CEO Rahul Johri and general manager, cricket operations, Saba Karim represented the BCCI.
Reportedly, a few board members discussed the details of the paper leaked beforehand to the media on Wednesday evening.
Speaking to the media after the 90-minute meeting in the capital, Richardson said, “It is (over-dependence on Indian cricket market) listed as potential weaknesses but I would actually focus on it as a strength. We need Indian cricket as part of global strategy. It is certainly a strength that we have—such a huge cricket economy behind us. It is not a big issue. If anything, it is a reminder for other countries that they cannot rely on India alone, they need to do something themselves.”
The ICC board recently set up a working group to develop a global strategy for cricket. BCCI is represented by Rahul Johri. In a press statement issued post this meeting, ICC said, “Members are united in their support of the project, which is aimed at growing the game globally, and ongoing consultation is a key part of the development of the strategy. We have a number of further member meetings scheduled to do the same thing as part of ensuring we end up with a comprehensive global strategy for the long-term good of our sport.”
The ICC also promised that the feedback from this meeting will be incorporated in the strategy paper. BCCI was the first member board that the ICC interacted with on this and it will now hold similar meetings with other members.
The BCCI officials also brushed aside the attempt to dilute India’s influence on the game in terms of its market share. “That (India being the biggest cricket market) is a fact of matter. But these are just observations made while doing a SWOT analysis. This is just a paper that has been circulated. It was a very cordial meeting and sharing of views.”
Other issue raised in the global strategy paper was the threat of a rebel cricket board to challenge the authority of the ICC. In the past, some attempts have been made but in vain. Richardson sought to allay fears on the same, saying the threat of a rival body was benign in nature. “It’s a quite historical fact... don’t forget, whenever you do a strategy paper, they do a SWOT analysis. Sometimes, it will focus on threats or weaknesses. That exists. Sometimes these are real and big risks, sometimes they are just there, not a threat, and this is the case here.”
On the impact of innovations in formats on the game, Richardson made it clear that internationally countries were firm on playing only existing three formats—Tests,ODIs and T20. No new formats like 100-ball game or T10 cricket were likely to be entertained officially. “The way we are headed with strategy is that we have got three formats of the game internationally. And that is what members want to stick to historically. There has always been innovation at domestic level and we don’t want to necessarily stop that. It is quite challenging, with three formats of the game as it is. We are certainly not looking any further. Same with T10 cricket,” he said.
The ICC, in its statement, said, "The global strategy will enable the sport to build on the opportunities and strengths identified during this process and mitigate against the weaknesses and threats. This is a huge opportunity for everyone and it is an exciting time as members and the ICC work in partnership to consider the long-term future of our sport."