Will the BCCI seek refuge in T20?
The BCCI was comprehensively outvoted when the ICC's proposed constitutional revamp went before the organisation's board at a recent meeting. So what does this mean for the game when the most powerful body, and by far its greatest financial contributor, is shunned?
The first thing we know is, the BCCI won't take this rejection lightly. The most important aspect of the rebuff is that it involved a hit to the BCCI's projected revenue stream. Considering the importance all cricket administrations place on finance, it's hard not to imagine the BCCI will react angrily to this perceived slight.
There have been mutterings for some time about the BCCI expanding their highly successful and lucrative IPL tournament. Any profits from the IPL are not shared among the other cricket nations, so it's easy to assume this will be the first port of call for the BCCI to cover any shortfall following the ICC rebuff.
Any expansion of the IPL will involve players being more committed to the T20 format. The high-profile players who participate in the IPL are well rewarded, so it's hard to see many, if any, not simply accepting such a dramatic change to the schedule. More involvement in the T20 format obviously means less time for players to participate elsewhere.
The 50-over game has already been squeezed, so it stands to reason any cutbacks to accommodate an expanded T20 schedule are most likely to occur in the Test programme. The five-day game really only prospers in Australia and England, so it's doubtful if there will be too much outrage expressed if the Test schedule is reduced.
If you then add the success of the BBL, both financial and support-wise, and the fact that Cricket Australia only makes a profit from one or two international tours at most, then expansion could also be on the horizon for this tournament. England will also be launching a city-based T20 tournament, and if this takes off, who knows what destination they might have in mind.
I've been under the impression for some time that many cricket officials believe the game can survive on T20 alone. Consequently it's not hard to visualise Test cricket being shortchanged when it comes to the nurturing it needs.
There are two things that might stand in the way of any concerted T20 push. Firstly, there's India's Committee of Administrators (COA), which has taken a very firm stand with the BCCI over its flimsy attempts at governance. However, the BCCI could simply acquiesce to the COA's demands, and once they are given the green light to conduct business freely, they could execute their plan for IPL expansion.
Then there's FICA, the international body of players' associations. If the players were totally committed to Test cricket remaining the prime form of the game, they could take a stand against any decrease in the scheduling of the longer version. However, this is unlikely on the basis that, firstly the Indian players are not a part of FICA, and secondly, the better players are usually the most influential in these associations. The better players are also the best rewarded and the ones who are most likely to be in demand at the more glamorous T20 tournaments.
Considering how much importance cricket officials place on the bottom line, it's unrealistic to expect the players not to take a similar approach.
Cricket needed a grand overall plan for the game when the rebel Indian Cricket League was introduced in 2007. It wasn't forthcoming then and questions such as how many forms of the game cricket needs (and if the answer is two, which one needs to be discarded?) have remained unasked.
For a long time cricket has been a runaway train, careering ahead without an obvious destination in mind. If the BCCI reacts angrily to the recent ICC rejection, the destination for cricket's future could become clear and the journey may well be considerably curtailed.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist