When talking about the world’s second most popular sport, one cannot ignore India and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The title is precisely apt because not only does BCCI rule cricket in India, it has become exceedingly powerful in the global cricket fraternity. indeed, on the global plane, cricket is governed by an organization known as the International Cricket Council (ICC) which supervises the world’s 105 cricketing nations. The ICC was originally founded in 1909 by three nations: England, Australia and South Africa. Along with other global sports, cricket’s ruling body was mainly dominated by West. While cricket was declining in the West it started getting popular in this part of the world mainly in Pakistan and India. So much so that now, cricket has more fan base and viewership than the national games of both the countries. With this, ICC saw a power shift within itself concluding with BCCI taking over the authority in 1997 and assuming 80 per cent control of the Council’s finances and establishing itself as a ruling force of governance in cricket. BCCI has made ICC its subsidiary which operates on behalf of its master.
The reason for this monopoly of Indian cricket board is the major source of revenue that it generates which the ICC cannot afford to defy and hamper its relationship with the BCCI. With India’s growing influence and dominating eminence and with increasing fixation of Indian Premier League (IPL) among people, BCCI is becoming ever so stronger and commanding in the cricket world. So how does India make use of its power? By ensuring that cricket flourishes more in the home country which in turn hinders development in the rest of the member countries. The recent introduction of the 20/20 format perhaps shows the biggest opportunity for BCCI to achieve a cricketing monopoly as the overwhelming enthusiasm is being displayed by hard-nosed businessmen and sports and entertainment pundits for BCCI and IPL.
The multi-billion dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) wins over the best players from India and the world yet BCCI restricts Indian players to take part in any other international t20 tournaments, the sole reason for this is that BCCI doesn’t want any other tournament or league to surpass the level of power that it currently exercise
Moreover with its heavy clout, BCCI manipulates the rules and scheduling of international cricket and effortlessly favors Indian players in every rift and racial incidents. In recent events related to the penalizing of Indian players BCCI took a stand to cancel the Australian tour when its player was penalized for racial remark, ICCI didn’t have any option but to relent.
What make BCCI the wealthiest Cricketing Board in the world are the sources through which it generates revenue. The top most of them is the Media Rights. Cricket is by far most watched sport in India. Given its viewership, global media rights (television as well as digital) for Indian matches could sell at a huge price. With billions of dollars and billions of fans, India is able to skew statistics in its favor. Media Rights for matches hosted by BCCI in India are generally sold to the highest bidder through an auction process.
If ICC is the UN of the cricket world BCCI sure takes up the role of a superpower in it. By serving as the superpower of the cricketing world it has successfully turned other cricketing boards into its colonies. With the accumulation of power and authority India has commercialized cricket killing its true spirit and it will remain so until there is a new ruling body capable of globalizing the game again.
The author, Shafaq Khursheed is a research intern at the PIIA