The Indian cricket board bringing its South African counterpart to its knees before agreeing to tour the country in December, that too for a truncated series, can only be described as the latest show of brinkmanship by the most influential and wealthy national body in the sport.
It was expected to be a three-Test series, a stiff test for India after their overseas debacles in England and Australia two seasons ago. With a number of young batsmen finding their feet for India, there would have been nothing better than facing South Africa’s great set of fast bowlers. However, by reducing it to two Tests a lot of excitement has been taken away, and it has only caused anguish among many to see that it is administrative politics that has affected the tour.
It is no secret that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and particularly its president N Srinivasan, have serious issues with Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa (CSA). Mr Lorgat, as the CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC), had backed the Decision Review System (DRS) and had also wanted the Woolf Committee report, pushing for a more equitable distribution of power within the world body, to be implemented.
The BCCI has had serious reservations about the DRS, which forced the ICC to leave it to national boards to decide whether to use it in bilateral series. The main aspect of the Woolf Committee report too is yet to see the light of day.
Few can quarrel with the BCCI for holding a grudge against Mr Lorgat, but the tour was thrown into serious doubt because CSA went against the BCCI’s demand that the official should not be chosen as its new CEO. Knowing that the revenue hit can be disastrous if India refuse to tour, CSA agreed to not only keep Mr Lorgat away from issues related to the BCCI, the role of its legal adviser, David Becker, whose untimely lashing out at Mr Srinivasan only queered the pitch, will also be investigated.
This is not the first time national boards have bent over backwards to be on the right side of the wealth the BCCI brings with it.
Unless they stand up, the situation will not change. As for the Indian board, some humility and letting bygones be bygones will only enhance its stature.