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India may split cricket world

There's a strong sense of deja vu in this. The BCCI, world cricket's economic superpower, and the ICC, cricket's governing body, seem headed for a showdown again.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2006 03:25 IST

There's a strong sense of déjà vu in this. The BCCI, world cricket's economic superpower, and the ICC, cricket's governing body, seem headed for a showdown again. The primary reason: the new BCCI regime seems to have decided it "won't take anything unfair to Indian interests lying down".

In three days’ time, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and ICC commercial manager Campbell Jamieson reach Delhi, along with two representatives of the Global Cricket Corporation (the ICC's main business partner and commercial rights holder) to thrash out a variety of issues, including problems with the Champions Trophy to be held in India later this year.

There is likely to be trouble with two of the three venues (Delhi and Mumbai, Kolkata being the third). The problem: at both the Wankhede and the Ferozeshah Kotla, advertisement space (hoardings/billboards) and hospitality have been sold on a long-term basis to companies. That space, obviously, cannot be re-sold to anyone on a short-term basis, as the ICC would want to do during the event.

This is just one thorny issue. There are others.

India has refused to take part in various proposed ICC events, including a Twenty20 World Cup, saying "India is not interested in Twenty20."

Then, just after the ICC announced that six countries were vying to host the 2008 Champions Trophy, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah reiterated on Wednesday that India would keep pushing for the event to be scrapped.

"Let them host the championship," he said.

"I'm happy for them. The Champions Trophy is usually slotted in October-November and 45 days of the best season for cricket in India and Pakistan are wasted on the tournament."

Also, the BCCI is not too happy with the scheduling of the ICC's Future Tours Programme, saying there was a definite bias towards Australia and England. "The ICC seems influenced by England," said Shah. "Year after year, the series taking place in Australia and England happen at fixed times, according to their convenience, while India's international calendar at home varies."

"We're only asking for equal treatment."

Shah said the BCCI was in no mood to relent, despite the heavy criticism of the BCCI's "high-handed ways" in the western media about India acting like a bully that did not care about the development of cricket worldwide. (Proceeds from ICC events go towards cricket development.)
"What about the development of Indian cricket and protecting our interests? World cricket can be developed from the proceeds of the World Cup. We need breathing space."

An ICC official told HT on Wednesday that the world body was "not in the business of confrontation" with anyone, including the BCCI, and the situation hadn't changed from a week ago.

Then, Speed wrote to Shah, reminding the BCCI of its "obligations towards the international cricket community" and expressed concern over what appeared to be "unilateral decisions" by India over the scheduling of matches.

Things are getting interesting.