A lot of things have changed since Sharad Pawar came into power as the BCCI chief. Lalit Modi predicts that the Indian board’s income is going to shoot up some fifteen-fold. The deal they brokered with Nimbus can vouch for that. The money-hungry BCCI’s every move is now being watched by the entire cricket world, with some questioning its soul. Let’s get one thing straight: power corrupts and India is the new superpower in the world of cricket. I can’t think of any superpower, anywhere in history, that has behaved truly “responsibly.” Heck, some, like the United States, still don’t. Why then this unrealistic expectation from India?
Because if there’s anyone in the world that can marry morality with puissance, India can. In his book “We, The People,” NA Palkhivala said:
After all, in our own century India represented the greatest moral force known to modern history and wrested its freedom, without weapons, from the largest empire on earth.
A rich, bountiful nation, that has been pillaged so often in the last millennium that much of its constituency is reduced to abysmal poverty, is rising as an economic force once again. This is going beyond cricket, of course. But can you really expect India to exhibit fairness towards those who have been far from fair to it? We must. In some ways, BCCI’s actions will reflect what we can expect from the Indian government in the larger, more important context of world economics and politics.
Let us first take a look at some of what the BCCI plans to do with its fast-growing money cache.
- Providing pension to ex-cricketers
- Doubling the pay of first-class cricketers
- Setting up a website
- Improving facilities at stadiums across the nation
- Setting up a domestic one-day competition
- Supporting other sports in India
IS Bindra gave a brief interview on the last day of the 2nd Test against England at Mohali where he identified two major problems with Indian cricket that the board would like to address. The first was that the Indian paying public was being short-changed. Anybody who has attended cricket matches in India (at places other than Mohali) knows exactly what he’s talking about. Having to stand in long lines to get tickets and get into the ground, not being allowed to take water bottles into the ground, not always having shade over your head, having to put up with disgusting restrooms, etc. are just a few of the problems. The second problem Bindra mentioned was that in terms of facilities and infrastructure, India was about 50 years behind Australia. I don’t know how reliable that number is, but his point is well-taken. We can assume a considerable chunk of the Indian board’s income will address these two issues.
All in all, the Indian cricket board is using the money quite wisely. And amid all this, there’s talk of increasing transparency in the Indian board’s dealings. All these things are good for Indian cricket and I don’t see personal greed involved anywhere. And after all, the country that funnels so much money into cricket should be able to improve its standard of the game (which will help further increase the sport’s cashflow).
This brings us to the question of other countries. I, as a cricket fan, am happier that India’s going to be playing more against tougher competition. Before the Pawar-led BCCI intervened, Australia was scheduled to next tour India in 2010. Can you imagine that? The current generation of superstars on both the teams would’ve never faced each other again on Indian soil.
However, the question of helping out other nations is a valid one. It is important that we realize that Bangladesh is today where we were 40-50 years ago. In that sense, India must realize its duty to cricket. England’s antics when it came to touring India in the last century still leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouths. We must not do the same to Bangladesh. There were talks that Bangladesh wouldn’t be treated properly when they tour India, but I doubt that would happen. Same thing with the Champions Trophy. Once it’s moved to a time slot that doesn’t always overlap the Indian cricket season, I think the Indian board will be happy.
India has a bright future ahead, and all signs at this point suggest India has the wisdom to go with the power.