Power, it was said, flows from the barrel of a gun. Today its symbol is money. The ideal world where there is no discrimination between the haves and the have nots, is honoured more in breach than in observance.
A case in point is the move of the three superpowers, which is threatening to split the cricketing world. This 21-page draft proposal, now “modified” to quell a rebellion, ostensibly espouses the noble cause of saving Test cricket from extinction. The proposals are so “visionary” that they will revitalize not just cricket, but even those who can’t sustain themselves financially.
With this intent of making all cricket-playing members self-sufficent so that they can become more competitive, the three super-powers then go on to elaborate a long-winding balance sheet of loss and profits, in which India is the driver (80% of the revenue comes from them) with Australia and England as the supporting cast. This exercise is undertaken to drive home the point that if the Big Three withdraw, cricket will crumble. Implicit in this is the threat that no one has a choice but to agree to what they are proposing.
Once this unequal relationship between the top three and the rest has been established, come the real points. The Future Tours Programme, which tries to give the have nots a share in the cricket tours, should be abolished and whom to play and not to play should be left to individual countries. This effectively means that India, Australia and
England will play more often with each other and then, if time permits, they shall condescend to play against the others. The most pernicious proposal that the Big Three will remain untouched by the two-tier relegation and promotion system to promote Test cricket has been junked to placate the anger of the rest.
What is disquieting is India’s abdication of the long tradition it had in challenging the hegemony of England and Australia and getting rid of the veto-power the two once enjoyed.
Ever since it has become the game’s financial super-power, it mocks at all democratic norms and has forgotten that had the same principle operated when they were the minnows, they would have still been languishing at the bottom of the ladder. In the nineties, India took along all its subcontinental members (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh) on board to fight Australia-England’s control over the game. Today, it is dumping them to join hands with the same group at whose hands they felt discriminated.
Cricket’s restructuring cannot be left in the hands of those whose prime motive at the moment is to strengthen and promote IPL-like tournaments at the cost of all cricket, the longer or shorter format.