The goras were laughing at us, saying that it took an Indian to strip BCCI of its powers,” said someone privy to what transpired at the recent ICC meeting in Dubai, where the Indian cricket board was outnumbered 7-2 when it came to voting on the new revenue sharing model proposed by the world body.
The Indian is Shashank Manohar, seen as a messiah by BCCI members who elected him president for a second term in 2015, following the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya. Perception started changing following his decision to dump BCCI for ICC in May 2016. In less than a year, he is villain in the BCCI’s eyes.
If this volte-face stunned a BCCI smarting under Supreme Court orders, Manohar’s handling of matters in ICC convinced other boards that here is the rare Indian who speaks for the benefit of others at the cost of drilling a small hole in his home board’s pocket. The BCCI continues to get the biggest piece of the pie but by reducing its share by 6%, Manohar has almost doubled incomes at the lower end of the spectrum.
It’s a sound tactical move, considering that the Nagpur lawyer had to win over ICC members for a smooth tenure of five years. For boards accustomed to see BCCI getting the better of both worlds, Manohar’s formula is a situation beyond dreams. Not only a windfall, it is also a chance to corner BCCI in the game of votes.
“The media sees it as all the members cornering BCCI. But it’s merely standing up for everyone’s right. We acknowledge that a major portion of revenue comes from BCCI, but that doesn’t mean they can dictate terms. It should be the same for all. The ICC was neglecting the likes of South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Without revenue, it was impossible for these boards to keep things going,” said a member of one of the boards that voted for the Manohar model.
“We were at a risk of losing players to domestic T20 leagues. There was a great need than ever before to provide better if not lucrative contracts. It can only happen if the ICC revenue model is changed. Going by the Big Three model, some of the boards faced the risk of losing players. With more revenue, we can always tie down the players,” added the official, who has been part of these negotiations.
Not felt in India, this a concern in several countries which was raised by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations last year.
Altering vote equations
Even though this official underplayed the voting part, the BCCI was quick to realise which way things were headed. Added revenue means allegiance to the establishment and to prevent this, BCCI representatives made a last-ditch attempt to woo other boards.
Offers were made to South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe that the Indian team would visit them on alternate years at the peak of their season, so that they can earn from TV rights. Too little or too late, the effort didn’t cut ice. The support of boards that made BCCI powerful was gone and after years, this was reflected in votes.
“Isn’t it natural that boards who have their share doubled will vote for the proposal leading to this change?” said an official of another full member belonging to the seven. “Other than that, there was this obvious feeling that everything in the previous arrangement was tailored to suit the Big Three. Smaller boards were quiet after initial resistance because they had no option. They will naturally embrace the new model which treats everyone with respect rather than catering to the needs of a select few.”
Consequently, this move distances Manohar from BCCI like never before. It’s a strange turn of events, considering how the two entities were feeding off each other not so long ago. It’s a rare transformation too, given Manohar’s consistent stand against ICC whenever the BCCI took on the world body with him at the helm.
“Manohar went to ICC as BCCI’s representative and then changed everything. Everybody in the BCCI was surprised to see this,” said former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, who was part of the team that brought Manohar back for a second term. “It may be a temporary phase, but what he has done suggests he is looking after the welfare of other boards and not paying attention to the BCCI’s interests.”
Subservient to Indians since Dalmiya became its president in 1996, the ICC has broken free also under an Indian. Game of glorious uncertainties!