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The International Cricket Council is reportedly considering handing a greater share of its powers to the cricket boards of England, India and Australia. Plus, there are murmurs about the Future Tours Programme (FTP) being scrapped. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks into these potential moves.
Why do we have a governing body in the form of the International Cricket Council (ICC)? You need an authority that regulates the game and everything about it; from ensuring the sustenance of all formats to helping the smaller nations develop into bigger cricketing powers, the ICC controls most of it. Though, critics may argue that the ‘big boys’ have often controlled proceedings, with vested interests eclipsing the greater good. On paper, the ICC is all supreme, but now, they plan to erase those marks by giving more control to Cricket Australia (CA), Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
If reports are to be believed, the ICC is now considering a major power shift which would give the three boards greater authority over various issues in the ICC. That would mean putting the fate of the sport in the hands of three national boards that may have their own interests. What is more shocking is that the proposals also question the ICC Test Rankings and moreover, books a spot for the respective three teams at the top if the two-tier Test format materialises. It doesn’t end there as the Future Tours Programme (FTP) may be done away with and the boards can then set series on a bilateral basis. Are we threatening the very future of the game; Test cricket in particular?
The FTP has been a directive and most nations follow it. There have been occasions though, where the individual boards have cancelled certain series for potentially more lucrative encounters. Take the example of the tri-series in the Caribbean last year, which came in place of a Test series between West Indies and Sri Lanka. Even the BCCI have changed the schedules to ensure it goes their own way. India were originally scheduled to play three Tests during the upcoming tour to New Zealand, but have ended up with only two.
Thus, if you are giving the three boards greater autonomy and doing away with the FTP, how do you expect Test cricket to be a very viable option. The richest of them all, BCCI, has often expressed their preference for the shorter formats through their actions and to give them a greater say, it would certainly put a cloud over Test cricket. Plus, if you leave the lesser boards to bilaterally schedule series’, they would more often than not prefer T20 cricket or One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
Thus, where is the obligation? Will all the nations have an obligation to play Test cricket if the FTP is done away with? After all, there wouldn’t be a governing body as such as it would be controlled by the major powers. The fans too do not come in numbers to watch Test cricket in those nations, so might as well host something that attracts crowds. Also, it is difficult to envision the BCCI asking other bodies to play Test cricket when their own priorities would be different.
And, what will all this mean for Twenty20 (T20) cricket? Will the BCCI push for an Indian Premier League (IPL) window? It may come to that as players from all over the globe flock to India for the league. And, if you give the IPL a window, why not give it to the Big Bash League (BBL) one would say.
So, it looks like the ICC is treading a very dangerous path and there may be serious repercussions in store. The problem is, we do not have the luxury of hindsight!
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