May 14, 2017

Will the BCCI seek refuge in T20?

The Indian board is not likely to take being rebuffed by the ICC lightly. A possible consequence could be an expansion of the IPL
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The fans love T20. Will the BCCI give them more of it? © BCCI

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.

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 not simply accepting such a change

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bazza on May 23, 2017, 17:00 GMT

    I'm sorry I didn't come across this article prior to today. It will be a sad day if BCCI decides to expand the IPL, both for world cricket and the IPL. I think the IPL is losing its shine and if you start removing some or most of the overseas players, there isn't the lucrative product it is today. Some of the batting bowling, fielding and especially catching by local Indian players is so sub standard I'm sure the knowledgeable Indian fans will tire of this sub standard cricket, and hence revenue stream will dwindle. I've never been a big fan of the hit and giggle show and have been open on here about it. I foresee the quality of Indian players coming through being weaker and weaker as they will want the instant riches of 20/20 and forego the correct techniques required for world class cricket players, regardless of format. How many sloggers maintain their form in 20/20 leagues around the world? What I truly find sad is every recent article concerning the BCCI is about money,not cricket

  • Jay on May 23, 2017, 11:23 GMT

    Modern cricket is big business. Like any US or Europe professional sport. Or Olympics. In India today, cricket is an industry with a huge economic multiplier effect nationwide. Apart from direct benefits of players, staff, officials, etc involved in IPL games, it boosts the local economy via gate receipts, stadium staff, concessions, hotels, transportation, etc; plus it also supports media services, sports manufacturing, etc in other parts. It's built a unique commercial ecosystem to support cricket in all 3 formats, helping nations to share in the wealth in many ways. BCCI spreads its revenues far & wide, contributing ~70% of cricket's world revenues. The cliched image of BCCI money & power is misplaced. It got "comprehensively outvoted" at the crucial ICC constitution meeting. Reality: India is the world's largest democracy. Still it does not have a seat on the 5-member U.N. Security Council? They call it Realpolitik: He who has the gold, makes the rules. Cricket needs BCCI !!

  • Ashok on May 22, 2017, 14:51 GMT

    @DUNGER.BOB: You state that all the money is in the hands of 30% of the members out of that 30%, 80% is in the hands of one member. I presume that 30% is Australia, England & India & 80% of that 30% is India. I am not sure of the stats. but I have just one question: Which country is most active in making Cricketers of all Nations Rich overnight? The simple answer is India via IPL. A portion of that revenue also swells the purse of ICC besides providing a career + lifetime financial security for Cricketers of all Nations. There has to be some preferential treatment for the Indian innovative efforts in originating IPL. It may not be 80% of 30% but at least a significant sum. When you are snubbed for your world class leadership & innovative ideas, what response do you expect from India? I agree that some Nations are struggling due to internal politics. Till 1950's, India was treated as a second class Nation in Cricket by countries like England & Australia. India now leads the World!

  • Ashok on May 22, 2017, 0:32 GMT

    Ian, You are on the right line of thinking that BCCI will react to being rebuffed by ICC. IPL has provided lucrative living for Cricketers of all Nations, thanks to BCCI for leading by putting this innovative idea into practice. I always felt there is a touch of the genius in creating the IPL. Many Aussies, NZ, WI, BD, SL, SA,English & above all the local Cricketer became Millionaires via IPL. It has also resulted in the each country Board giving lucrative contracts for their own players to be competitive. The real question is will India go to an extended IPL format? IMO it needs serious planning. But I do see that as a first step IPL format may be increased by a month or more to see the results + make it for the Indians only. Several other ideas are also possible - e.g., Running an ODI championship on similar lines to current IPL to involve foreign players & cutting out Intl. Tests to minimal. ICC's rebuff will be met in a forceful way- Action & Reaction are equal & opposite-Eh?

  • Jay on May 21, 2017, 0:26 GMT

    Ian - Good question: "Will BCCI seek refuge in T20?". Just ask ex-CA chairman Wally Edwards. In an ESPNcricinfo interview in March 2014 - aptly titled "Why would you do a Kerry Packer?" - he stated that India (BCCI chief Srini) had made a "commitment" not to expand IPL for 8 years provided a new Members Participation Agreement was struck. His rationale: "Why would you risk turning the IPL into a travelling circus that would take all our good cricketers 12 months of the year and leave us with second-rate international cricket?". A Kerry Packer moment indeed! Remember Packer's Circus in the late 1970s when KP lured away the game's best cricketers (incl Chappelli) to the rebel World Series Cricket after confronting the ACB to get exclusive TV rights? Yes, it's about MONEY! Now with the MPA scrapped & Big 3 reduced to an "angry" Big 1, will anybody call BCCI's bluff? Wally might have the answer, Ian!

  • Jay on May 18, 2017, 1:03 GMT

    Ian - FICA standing "in the way of any concerted T20 push" is questionable. Just watch the ACA vs CA drama playing out with "daggers drawn"! Better still, just ask Aussie vice-captain David Warner: True to his name, he has warned that top Aussie cricketers would decamp to foreign T20 leagues if a new pay deal is not sealed by the June 30 deadline. What's more, he found the CA provision to limit player involvement in T20 leagues like the IPL to be "laughable"! IPL is the most lucrative league - the destination of choice for primarily the best players from most other nations. They follow the MONEY! If anything, given the hard CA stand - surely you remember WSC, Ian? - it's the Aussie players who will "seek refuge in T20", Ian !!

  • Cricinfouser on May 17, 2017, 15:40 GMT

    if a T20 franchise league was started in England or Australia,the Western media would claim it was the best thing that happened to cricket.just because India pioneered the IPL,the entire Western media i.e. England and Australia are jealous and tag it as a the most evil thing that has happened to cricket..why dont they raise a fingure on kolpak that is happening in England.in Ipl players can still play for their country unlike in kolpak..when reverse swing was started by wasim and waqar, the English media termed it as cheating, when they mastered it was an "art".England and Australia are jealous on Indian cricket at the moment because of the success of the IPL and the fact that we are the richest board currently..hope someone stops cribbing about the IPL and write about the evils of kolpak please publish.

  • Jay on May 17, 2017, 10:17 GMT

    Ian - Good question: Will the BCCI seek refuge in T20? Just ask ex-CA chairman Wally Edwards. In an ESPNcricinfo interview in March 2014 aptly titled "Why would you do a Kerry Packer?" he stated that India (BCCI chief Srini) had made a "commitment" not to expand IPL for 8 years provided a new Members Participation Agreement was struck. His rationale: "Why would you risk turning the IPL into a travelling circus that would take all our good cricketers 12 months of the year and leave us with second-rate international cricket?". A Kerry Packer moment indeed! Remember Packer's Circus in the late 70s when KP lured away the game's best cricketers (incl Chappelli) to the rebel World Series Cricket after confronting the ACB to get exclusive TV rights? Yes, it's about MONEY! Now with the MPA scrapped & Big 3 reduced to an "angry" Big 1, will anybody call BCCI's bluff? Mate Wally might have the answer, Ian!!

  • Andysi2416478 on May 17, 2017, 2:39 GMT

    Mr. Chappel knows more about cricket than everyone on this comments section combined. His words are measured and correct. People need to read in between the lines what he is trying to convey.

  • Jacob on May 16, 2017, 16:13 GMT

    Soon, international cricket, including Ashes, would just be a springboard for the rising stars to play in the IPL. The writing is, indeed, on the wall!

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