India has been dictating terms in international cricket for quite some time now due to its financial muscle, the large part of the revenue generated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) coming from the country. Thursday’s announcement that N Srinivasan will be chairman of the revamped ICC merely confirms this reality.
However, Srinivasan taking over is viewed with a lot of cynicism. Corruption is the biggest challenge in global cricket and the Chennai industrialist is among the 13 persons being investigated for corruption allegations in connection with last year’s IPL scandal by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal committee. The panel has been asked to submit its report by August end. What will the ICC do if the committee indicts Srinivasan?
Srinivasan was forced to step down as BCCI president, although the apex court did not stop him from taking over the ICC post. Still, it is remarkable that there was no protest at the ICC meeting. Although Srinivasan rejected all criticism and said his “conscience is clear”, there is worry that he would be in a position to influence the functioning of the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit, which is facing a review. He has also not been able to shake off the conflict of interest accusations over his links with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). His son-in-law and CSK official, Gurunath Meiyappan, was arrested last year over allegations of illegal betting and passing on information.
Cricket, despite noises about expanding its global footprint, is still about a handful of teams. And once the BCCI pushed through a ‘position paper’ in February, seeking to seize control of the running of world cricket with Australia and England, it was a matter of time before all meaningful opposition collapsed.
While South Africa, the other big board, was denied a place at the high table all boards fell in line as they could not afford to lose out on the revenue pie. Under the new financial pay structure, the BCCI, ECB and CA stand to gain a much larger share, ending the equitable pay structure where the BCCI’s take home is the same as that of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Although India drove the changes to get a bigger slice of the revenue pie, its domination over weaker members has only grown.