Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The changing face of cricket

There has been a slight reprieve from the gradual conquest of cricket by India. Imtiaz Patel, a South African, has been designated as the next CEO of the ICC. The BCCI had wanted their own man, IS Bindra, in the role - but with another Indian, Sharad Pawar, due to take over as president of the ICC, its members managed to draw their heads out of the Indian trough for long enough to voice some slight concern about a potential Indian stanglehold over the game. Of course that concern was voiced in the least offensive way possible and came with a nice get-out clause - Bindra might not have got the crown, but he instead received a nice bauble in the form of an appointment as the CEO's "Principal Advisor".

Despite Bindra's failure to become CEO, it is clear that the future of cricket still lies in Indian hands. This might not be a bad thing, except for one very real conflict of interest - the IPL.

Currently the cricketing nations are bound by the "Future Tours Programme" (FTP), which outlines an agreed schedule of matches between nations until 2012. This schedule is largely binding (although apparantly not for India, witness their abandonment of the 2006/7 tour to New Zealand - and the fact that neither Bangladesh nor Zimbabwe have toured India under the programme), but it expires in four years time. The FTP recognises that international cricket is the pinnacle of the game, and aims to ensure that each national side has time in the limelight.

The problem for the world game is that the BCCI is clearly trying to make the league-style IPL the cornerstone of cricket. It is possible for the IPL and the FTP to co-exist, but only if the ICC treads cautiously. Cricket is fragile in some parts of the world and needs to be nurtured, but I can't see the BCCI/ICC indulging in any nurturing if that might come at the expense of the IPL.

With India holding the purse-strings and positions of power within the ICC, expect that the review of the FTP in 2012 will see big changes. And expect those changes to mean even less test cricket for smaller nations like New Zealand.

9 comments:

Ottayan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ottayan said...

Regarding the future Tours Programme.- India is not the only culprit.Australia too has whinged out of Bangladesh tour citing Beijing Olympics.

India toured Bangladesh last year. It certainly helped their cricketing association fill their coffers.

BTW, I don't understand how IPL is going to be the end of Test cricket.

Cheers

Ben said...

Ottayan,

It isn't that the IPL alone will kill test cricket. The fear is that the BCCI's disdain for the FTP will mean that it will not be renewed in 2012 and that in the post-FTP world, India will hardly ever play New Zealand and Australia will never play Bangladesh. (Not the end of test cricket, but the end of the international cricket touring circuit as we know it in New Zealand.)

I think it is impossible to predict what impact the IPL will have on the FTP in four years time. Either the IPL will be a failure, and in 2012 it is merely a fixture on the Indian domestic scene kept alive by its investors, or it will be a raging success, expanded to twice as many teams and including a 50-over tournament, overlapping with New Zealand's late summer season as well as the English international season and the West Indian domestic season.

Straight Point said...

the more you fly kite more your head will spin (upwards...)...

Karl said...

Huh?
The FTP was the successor to the "10-year programme" which was championed by Chris Doig when he was CE of NZ Cricket. He pushed for it to get the smaller test playing nations (of which New Zealand was/is one) more regular tours by and to the bigger nations - http://content-nz.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/99113.html

It will be distressing to see this come to an end. Although it could be argued that the way India and Australia treat us it probably already has.

On another angle to this, the West Indies have expressed a bit of relief that they're so bad they'll only have a couple of their players in the IPL. However, they're going to let them play to the end of the tournament and not play in the tests. The IPL *is* weakening test cricket immediately. And what do India give the countries who bend over and ban players like Shane Bond? I think nothing.

Ottayan said...

Ben,
Let me make clear I am not defending BCCI.

As you are aware BCCI started the IPL with the ICC's blessings ( ICC is not yet controlled by India :)) and other cricketing associations as a knee jerk reaction to ICL.

BCCI had to act fast to keep its own flock together. Perceiving the same threat, that of cricketers playing for money (ICL) rather than playing for their country, the other cricketing associations followed BCCI.
That is one of the main reason there is a clash with other tournaments and tour. It is not 'disdain' but self-preservation.

So for starters the howls of protest which we hear now from the ECB etc., are hypocritical. What if the cricketers have just left their county or national team and played for ICL? Where or what can they do? Atleast now they can howl.

The FTP is not set in stone. It is a roadmap for cricket tours. It is primarily to ensure that the less commercially viable tours take place. The very reason for its existence is an ample proof that countries choose to stay away from tours which they deemed unncessary. Even with the FTP it is still happening. ( The two instances mentioned in this blog are testimpony to it.)

Yes I agree that the IPL has overlapped other championship this year. For godsakes, it is an hurriedly organised tournament. So let us give it one year. I am sure all the cricketing association will find a via media for the next year.

Coming to India not playing New Zealand and Australia not playing Bangladesh - it is a shame. However, a rhetorical question, New Zealand Rugby team has never played in India. Why is that?(Yes, we do have a rugby team).

Personally, I think IPL will not destroy test cricket. As I have written in my blog earlier, it may speed up Test cricket. Instead of five-days we may soon see a four day or even a 3 day Test match.

Ben, I write this as a lover of cricket and every thing which happens in the name of cricket.

Cheers.

Ben said...

Ottayan,

(I love cricket too. And I really love discussing cricket, so thanks for commenting on this blog. I am not arguing with you, just clarifying some of your points.)

As I understand things, the BCCI established the IPL because they wanted complete control of cricket in India, not because they were concerned about losing their players. The ICL will release their contracted players to play international cricket, something which the IPL doesn't handle as well. The problem is the BCCI insisting on a ban for players signed with the ICL.

I think the IPL will likely be a very good tournament. The problem is that its scheduling will be made to suit the Indian schedule and not necessarily the schedules of the countries of the participating players. And if a window is made in the FTP to fit the IPL, someone will miss out, possibly New Zealand.

As Karl noted, the IPL/ICL has already weakened New Zealand cricket. We have lost good players to the ICL, had players retire from test cricket to further their IPL careers and will probably have some players missing critical warm up games in our upcoming tour of England. Not only is New Zealand not recompensed for banning the ICL contracted players, we are not recompensed for the disruption the IPL is causing to our team.

Rugby is a good example of a sport that could benefit from an FTP. Not only do the All Blacks not play in India, they don't play in any of the pacific island nations. Also, despite being a good rugby nation, Argentina cannot get into an international competition. Cricket could end up the same way.

Ottayan said...

Ben,
Thanks for accepting my point of view.

As you pointed out "The problem is the BCCI insisting on a ban for players signed with the ICL."

The other issues can be sorted out.:)

sportsfreak said...

The ICC, funded mostly by the BCCI and their TV funder, had no alternative.

The only sport where there are rival competititons running the show is .... boxing

Nuff said.