Bitter Cup

Cricket’s marquee tournament is a sham

01 February 2015
The ICC claims that its mission is to spread cricket across the globe and promote cricketing ties between nations. But its actions over the past year have made clear that its intention is to maximise revenue by prioritising games between India, England and Australia.

On 12 February, Melbourne will host what John Eren, the minister for tourism, sport and major events for the Australian state of Victoria, has promised will be a “once-in-a-generation” cultural and musical celebration to get the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup 2015 “off to a great start.”

In the course of that celebration, the dignitaries of cricket, all honourable men, will take the stage to speak before the assembled cricketers of the participating nations. Leading the speech-makers will be the chairman of the ICC, holder of a post newly reconstituted to signal the organisation’s shift from being a banana republic with the sole purpose of wielding power and collecting the fruits thereof to a corporation with the goal of maximising revenues from its sole product.

For Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the ICC chairman, it will be an opportunity to bask in an unthreatening spotlight, albeit momentarily, after months of headlines announcing the Supreme Court of India’s serial strictures on his conduct. From May until November last year, when the Supreme Court began hearing a 2013 case alleging corruption in the Indian Premier League, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which controls the league, stage-managed the fiction that Srinivasan, while remaining the body’s de facto president, had complied with the court’s order that he stand down to allow a fair probe. During this period, the BCCI twice postponed a scheduled annual election—not because of any court strictures or other roadblocks, but because Srinivasan could not contest, and the elections, though ostensibly free and fair, were widely understood to be a formality towards keeping him in office.

Prem Panicker Prem Panicker is the managing editor of Yahoo India.