It is no secret that the Indian cricketing body has major control over world cricket. We take a look at how it does so and its impact on the sport.
Cricket; the sport that captivates the country with a billion people. With exciting on-field action and international recognition, there is no wonder why people worship the sport. However, with India’s craze for cricket, comes a darker side of the system that governs it, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). There have been constant talks in the cricket world of the BCCI portraying dominance over the International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of Cricket worldwide.
One would imagine the International body to have more power than a single member of its 104 member nations, yet the BCCI stands stronger than all of its counterparts combined. Here’s why.
Cricket makes for great business.
Gone are the 90s days when the BCCI paid a monopolized Doordarshan 5 lakh rupees per match to broadcast matches. Today, cricket broadcasting has become the largest source of income for the BCCI. In 2018, the BCCI bagged 950 million dollars in broadcasting rights alone which accounts for 45% of its total annual revenue. With a population of 135 crore, India is also the largest market for cricket. Add to this, the sponsors that the body brings with it, and one will have a member with a major revenue stream to the ICC. These factors make India a 70% contributor to the ICCs revenue. This however comes with the caveat of India bagging more than 30% of the total profits distributed among the 104 members. One of the reasons why cricket hasn’t made it to the Olympics yet, is because of the Indian cricket lobby displaying its clout by keeping the sport independent. The BCCI stands to lose major revenue if the sporting authority is moved to the Olympic body.
Then comes the game changing entrant- The IPL
Started in 2008, the Indian Premier League or IPL was the brainchild of businessman Lalit Modi. At the time, Modi was a member of the BCCI and proposed the new 20 over format with all the shabang of an international league tournament. The move proved to be very successful and turned cricket in India from a gentleman’s game to a display of glamour and gumption. Modi became an iconic figure in the cricketing world consolidating major decision making power in the tournament to himself. With Modi's growing clout came poor decision making and receiving kickbacks from sponsors. The BCCI took notice of this in 2010, completely banning him from the sport in 2013. The embers of Modi’s brainchild live on in India to this day making the tournament one of the world’s most expensive sporting events. While the IPL makes 11.5 billion dollars a year, the BCCI takes a large chunk of this money as well. Reports have emerged of the BCCI stopping other countries from organizing their own League tournaments by simply threatening them of non-participation by the Indian team. An example of this occurred during the 2008 monkeygate scandal when Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh allegedly called Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds a monkey during the game. Harbhajan Singh received a 3 match ban. However, this ban did not last when the BCCI threatened to walk away from the test match taking with it all the sponsors and revenue. The protest worked and Singh’s ban was lifted showing the true might of the BCCI in international cricket.
Events such as the non repayment of tax exemptions by the BCCI to the ICC during the 2016 World T20 series and last year’s protests by the BCCI against the ICCs event cycle of 2023-2031 truly demonstrate the power the body holds in the world of cricket. While making for great business, one must realize the impact these activities have on the sport itself. Many members of the ICC have spoken against such practices by the BCCI resulting in hardly to no action being taken by the handicapped ICC authorities. What the future holds for cricket is clear with the BCCI holding the reins.