Now that India is a respected nuclear power and a strong candidate for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, the question is, where does it stand in the hierarchy of cricket nations? Measured by the economic yardstick, India is a clear leader. It controls the money that fuels world cricket and all major economic impulses originate here. While the rest of the world strains to attract sponsors, the situation here is different. The BCCI routinely closes deals that run into billions of dollars and is flush with funds. Such is the attraction that top companies wait in a queue, clutching blank cheques, hoping to acquire a piece of the action.
As the ICC has discovered, commercial wealth translates into strength in the committee room and India is willing to use its newly-acquired muscle to seek a larger role in the way the sport is administered.
Whether this also provides respect in the cricket world is debatable. Traditionally, England and Australia have been in the anti-India block. England still maintains that position while is now Australia a commercial ally. The West Indies and South Africa are unstable, opportunistic independents, and recently the solid Asian block, comprising our neighbours, has developed cracks. Already, voices of dissent are emerging from Pakistan where there is a feeling that dependence on India has hurt their interests. Sri Lanka too seems to have broken ranks by expressing displeasure over the IPL/ICL issue.
Respect on the world stage is linked to on-field performance and as India is not a champion side, it does not have the right to be automatically seated at the high table. To achieve that distinction, India must take the lead to develop expertise and actively contribute to cricket's growth.
Judged on this scale, India flunks the test. For a nation that is certified cricket crazy, the level of knowledge is abysmal. Sunil Gavaskar is a distinguished expert and Ravi Shastri is an accomplished broadcaster but apart from them there is nobody who can measure up to them. Our umpires, ground staff, and scorers count for little.
The stadiums range from ordinary to less than ordinary. As we can't find a local coach for our senior team, we’re pay a foreigner with almost zero experience close to $50,000 a month! We would really arrive when other countries hire Indian coaches and ground staff and foreign teams come to the NCA to train. At present, Australia is the true super power, their methods and systems work and they have a monopoly over cricket knowledge, which is successfully exported to buyers in the world. In the cricket economy, India is a consumer not a producer.
Money is a great resource but it can buy only this much, there are some things which are priceless and invaluable. Seen in this perspective, India has a dualidentity — an economic giant and a struggling cricket power.