The Big Three or 3-idiots?

January 26, 2014

The Big Three or 3-idiots?

Let me say upfront that the proposal which BCCI, ECB and CA suggest be taken seriously in the forthcoming ICC meeting this coming week has weight in the corporate world where such oligarchies have existed for hundreds of years.

There are, and have been for many years, protests of most member countries against the Big 5 who have veto power in the United Nations. They are like the classroom bullies, who have a sense of superiority.

Now it seems that the very country that has several times questioned the power of veto, India, and feels it is against the principles of equality, demands a veto power in the ICC.

It was India and Pakistan that wrested the powers of veto from England and Australia on the rationale that they can’t pick whom, when and where they will play; it led to a better distribution of cricket matches and the principle of one board, one vote.

There should be no place for coercion or greed in the world of cricket. It is an abstract creation just like any global or regional sporting body. It is not in the cut-throat business of maximising profits. Yes, make profit but not at the expense of other members. Do not make this game your mistress. With this proposal you are effectively killing the game.

It is further insulting on the part of the three to assume that the rest of the world will acknowledge that they have adopted the correct procedure of putting it on the table in an ICC meeting and ask for approval.

If they valued and respected the opinion of the other members they would not work behind their backs in forming this proposal and presenting it to everyone as a fait accompli.

Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa can say to these boards that they lose nothing if the proposal does not go through and status quo is maintained, but if it does they can kiss goodbye to winning the World Cup.

Representatives of the elite nations in the Finance and Commercial Affairs committee had secretly been working on the details of the proposal for some six months. No Associate members were even given the draft in the January 9 ICC meeting called hurriedly.

These boards would not have risked their reputations had they been unsure about the proposal getting approved. The Big Three need only two votes to push it through. Besides their own, they have certainly roped in New Zealand. And considering that the West Indies have given a diplomatic statement that they will vote according to what is in their best interests, the probability is they will call "aye" as well.

Once the other boards realise this, they will not want to be on record as having voted against it and be cold shouldered by the three after the proposal has been passed.

At the same time by calling for a vote as early as next week they are not giving time to the others to get together and agree on a counter-strategy.

You cannot trust anyone with your true feelings because anyone may be a mole of the three.

For instance, Bangladesh desperately needs BCCI, ECB, CA and New Zealand for it to survive. With them not playing Pakistan, they will literally have nowhere to go. They would like to say "no" in normal circumstances, and might still do, but if the big three feel on the eve of the vote that they are one vote short, there will be incentives offered to get one out of six to break ranks with the naysayers. Some or most of the other six may already be silently on board.

The Sri Lankan board will think that since they are perennially bankrupt anyway, if they confront the "big five" they might as well lock up the game and go to the beach.

Even though Pakistan have only themselves to blame for being seen as the court clown due to their utterances and actions via their spokesmen sent to the ICC meetings, there is no justification for sidelining a country that has won World Cups and regularly produced some of the greatest players ever. Yes, they messed up even the best of their relationships they had for years with other boards, but fools come, fools go; you can devalue their opinions but you can’t kick them out of the room.

I doubt there is any incentive that Pakistan and South Africa, the two boards which have shown their disagreement, can offer to the other six, other than a bigger share of profits from bilateral series. But then the sponsors will rethink even their existing commitments with them.  Nevertheless, it isn’t that nothing can be done about it in the little time there is left. If Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka can form a platform, together they may be able to convince Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and the West Indies. New Zealand will thereafter get cold feet. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa can say to these boards that they lose nothing if the proposal does not go through and status quo is maintained, but if it does they can kiss goodbye to winning the World Cup. This is because of India’s condition that they will only give their go-ahead to start the bidding rights for the World Cups after 2015 only if the proposal is accepted (the bidding process cannot start if even one board does not sign up).

Yes, there will be the threat that the big three and maybe New Zealand also will stay away from the World Cup and have their own world series. But in a way that will happen eventually. Once cricket dies out there will be no one left except these four.

It is a sad time for cricket. In fact it seems as if we are living in the 1930s when Germany, Italy and Japan formed an axis just like this one and gave ultimatums to the smaller countries around them or around their existing colonies to cede territory or risk war.

In the case of smaller countries elsewhere they were told to surrender their independence and become slaves like their neighbouring countries or they would be colonised by force.

Today BCCI, ECB and CA seem to have adopted the role of the Axis Powers, and no three guesses which one is playing Hitler.

The Big Three or 3-idiots?