Generally, the human kind, since its ascent, has got accustomed to numerous combinations of delicacies to please its taste buds — and, among them, the Lankan combination of curd and treacle takes special place at any table. As a combination, it’s second to none. But, there is one irony. If one takes the two individually, [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

SLC Alice is in Neverland


Generally, the human kind, since its ascent, has got accustomed to numerous combinations of delicacies to please its taste buds — and, among them, the Lankan combination of curd and treacle takes special place at any table. As a combination, it’s second to none. But, there is one irony. If one takes the two individually, neither could make a mark. Curd on its own is not the most palatable food, while treacle cannot be consumed as a dish.

At the moment, the game of cricket is in the process of separating two of the most vital ingredients in its modern day format. At a glance, India’s stand on the proposed ICC financial module looks unjust. India, for its part, feels it has been cheated or, is not being treated fairly.

Why? India feels it should get a bigger share of the pie in this exercise. Its argument is that since it earns 70% of the ICC revenue, purely on that argument it should be treated favourably. Even the now defunct ‘Big Three’ proposition was based mainly around this argument or India’s money power.

It is understandable that Vikram Limaye, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s representative at the ICC meeting, vehemently opposed the new format, when it came up in April. This was because India felt it stood to lose money. But, why on earth did Sri Lanka become the other country to oppose this move? Besides Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe opted to abstain – may be they are not happy with the share offered to them.

Yet, in recent times, Sri Lanka has been sitting on the wrong side of the fence.

A while ago, when ICC chairman Shashank Manohar opted to resign, the Sri Lanka representative at the ICC forum sat on the other side of the fence and brought the country some blushes – he wanted to wear the cap, while the rest opposed it. Now this was followed by Sri Lanka voting along with Indian for the financial module, while Bangladesh, which was expected to work alongside India, casting its vote for the ICC’s module.

Yet, the sad part of the story is that, none of these questionable moves got the proper media attention. Yes, we have to admit that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) now has done a commendable job of getting only its side of the story out.

When the now infamous ‘Big Three’ was proposed, yet again, it was SLC which played a prominent role fighting it. It was for a just cause. Sri Lanka, with that move, stood to lose a lot. So, Sri Lanka, along with South Africa and Pakistan, decided to stand against the ‘Big Three’ move. At the same time, if three full members are against a move, the ICC cannot pass a resolution.

Somehow it was South Africa which betrayed the ‘small three’ resolution and the SLC led by its then Vice President (the present Secretary) Mohan de Silva, Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and Treasurer Nuski Mohammed, who then went on an hour-long bargaining spree with BCCI strongman N. Srinivasan, and saved face for Sri Lanka. Yet, Sri Lanka and Pakistan only abstained from voting at that point.

Yet, at this point, Sri Lanka stands to gain by this ICC move. With this proposition, Zimbabwe will get the least among the full members — a US$ 94 million grant. Like the rest, the money would be disbursed over an eight-year period. So it is understandable why Zimbabwe abstained from

The biggest share of US$ 293 million goes to the BCCI, followed by US$ 143 million for the ECB. Rest of the full members – Cricket Australia, Sri Lanka Cricket, the Pakistan Cricket Board, Cricket South Africa, the New Zealand National Cricket team, the West Indies Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Cricket Board — would receive US$ 132 millions each. However, a huge share of US$ 280 million has been allocated for Associate Members.

This is where the Indian dispute lies.

Under the Big Three move, the BCCI were to receive US$ 570 million. Now the rest of the ICC has shaved off US$ 280 million towards the development of the game in associate member nations. This means the BCCI was to get 290 million dollars, but, the ICC has offered them 293 million dollars.

Now an apparently agitated BCCI is flexing its muscle and holding the upcoming Champions Trophy tournament to ransom. Up to now, India has not announced its tour squad, though it’s long past midnight for Cinderella. Now the BCCI is looking to hold an SGM today, to decide how India should respond. The ICC is holding out patiently.

The ICC tried to coax the BCCI by offering an additional US$ 100 million to the already announced US$ 293 million. But the BCCI is still not interested.

In reality, even though the tournament is scheduled to be played in England, an international cricket tournament without India would be like dessert with only curd on the table. At the same time, if the bombshell is set in motion, there would be huge reverberations within the realms of international cricket.

What India is asking is its dues, which it believes it owns, for being the highest contributor to the ICC kitty. This is a rare occasion that, in a world forum, a third world country is releasing its firepower to set the rest ablaze. If India’s resolve is shaky, it may even go down in shambles, like the Spanish armada did at one point of time in history.

India is the biggest Cricket influence in the sub-continent, may even be the cricketing world. But, they must also remember that, when it comes to World opinion, sometimes, even giants may shake. They do not have to go far. Remember what happened a few moons ago, when the ‘Big Three’ move was in motion. They won because they had the muscle to back it.

At the same time, Sri Lanka tried to act Mighty Mouse, only to be rattled by meek South Africa, during the ‘Big Three’ move, even though they were fighting for a just cause. This time, the Lankans tried a doosra by running along with the BCCI, a fight which they had no part to play.

Another Indian newspaper was quoted as saying  “In a double whammy to the BCCI. The ICC Board members out-voted the world’s richest Cricket administrator, in favour of adopting the new revenue-sharing model, as well as a governing structure.

The proposal to change the revenue-sharing model was approved by a 9-1 vote, with only BCCI representative, Amitabh Chaudhary, voting against it. Similarly, the proposal for governing structure changes got eight ‘ayes’. Only Chaudhary and SLC’s Thilanga Sumathipala opposed the move.”

At the moment, India knows what it is aiming at but, what of Sri Lanka? Are they going to shoot themselves on their own foot or else like someone said just the other day — ‘he was just joking’?.

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