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BCCI’s ‘big four’ FTP model reflects ex-ICC chief N Srinivasan’s vision

N Srinivasan had mooted the ‘Big Three’ model in a bid for higher revenue from the International Cricket Council which was dismantled by Shashank Manohar but the Board of Control for Cricket in India have proposed a new FTP plan termed the Big Four.

cricket Updated: Dec 12, 2017 20:39 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BCCI,Future Tours Program,International Cricket Council
Shashank Manohar had disbanded the ‘Big Three’ model proposed by N Srinivasan but the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s latest ‘Big Four’ FTP is an attempt to shrink cricket at the highest level.(Hindustan Times)

The late Jagmohan Dalmiya was the first big proponent, as International Cricket Council president, of globalising a game steeped in tradition and stuck within a handful of erstwhile British Commonwealth countries and regions. India have also been broad-minded and shown a sense of history by announcing it would host Afghanistan’s inaugural Test next year.

However, the game’s biggest mover has also taken a big step to shrink cricket at the highest level, arguing that only a few teams matter in the game. This became clear on Monday when the Board of Cricket in India (BCCI) announced their one-size-fits-all Future Tours Progamme (2019-2023).

The BCCI acting secretary, Amitabh Choudhary, said after a Special General Meeting that ‘more than 50 percent’ of matches in the fresh cycle will be against Australia, England and South Africa, teams that attract the big bucks after India.

In the proposed new cycle, India’s home games will go up from 51 to 81. Choudhary said BCCI members unanimously backed the plan, arguing it reflected marketplace reality.

Flexing power

Revenge is best served cold. In 2014, N Srinivasan had pushed through the controversial Big Three plan, which earmarked the biggest chunk of ICC revenues for itself. It argued India accounted for 80 percent of the revenue as the game’s global commercial hub.

Australia and England rode piggyback. Sri Lanka and Pakistan protested, but murmurs and sighs of anxiety died once a plan to raise funds for others was made.

Shashank Manohar replaced Srinivasan at the helm in ICC, and then took over as its first independent chairman. He dubbed the Big Three plan “unethical and unfair” and took steps to usher in administrative democracy.

BCCI bosses in another time would not have allowed that snub, while the rest of the world saw the wrong done by one Indian being righted by another.

The BCCI officials, waging a battle with the Supreme Court and a panel appointed by it to cleanse cricket administration, were forced to accept ICC’s revised revenue distribution plan in April. The Committee of Administrators called the bluff on a threat to boycott the Champions Trophy held in June.

Pakistan out

However, the BCCI bosses have leveraged the democracy of an SGM, ushering in a controversial plan through a new route, one that leaves out Pakistan altogether.

These are early days as the FTP needs to bed down. India want home matches played in two windows – October-December and January-March.

It is unlikely BCCI would have drawn up the FTP without getting on board the other three key Test nations.

The BCCI plans more matches and fewer playing days. It indicates focus will be on Tests for the ‘Big Four’. Money-spinning T20s might be played to keep others happy.

The Indian Board has the heft to push through its plans, especially with the IPL being the biggest attraction for players.

The ICC restored order in April by dumping the Big Three plan, but will face pressure due to India’s new proposal.

India have already wangled a deal from ICC to back the inaugural Test Championship (2019-2021) and ODI league, ensuring it won’t have to play Pakistan.

If the Indian Board’s FTP goes ahead, it will again be like old times – tail wagging the dog.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 20:35 IST