The last 15 months have not been pleasing for cricket lovers. There has been a massive turmoil within the International Cricket Council (ICC). The reason for both the things has been the emergence of an unstoppable force called the BIG THREE.
The Big Three club refers to the trio of the English Cricket Board (ECB), Cricket Australia (CA) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who now together run the ICC. Other cricketing nations feel completely ostracized because of this shocking development.
The three nations with mutual understanding take decisions related to international cricket. These decisions include the Future Tours Program (FTP), the laws regarding the game and several more significant decisions. And it goes without saying that the “mutual understanding” is made purely on the basis of financial reasons. The three prosperous boards have clearly formed a cartel of sorts and are completely monopolizing the game.
Over a year and a half ago, the three boards gave the ICC an ultimatum of allowing them to run the game, or else they would form a rival board. This meant that the three nations would not tour or host any cricketing nation who didn’t ally with them. The other nations finally gave up and the Big Three club was eventually formed.
The Big Three club is solely driven by the urge of financial motivations and nothing else. It was the idea of the revamped ICC to scrap the test championship and rather continue with the Champions Trophy. There was a serious buzz for the test championship among the viewers and they all were geared up for it. But now, the dream for the test championship shall always remain a distant dream! The old fashioned Champions Trophy is back, where the top 8 sides will battle it out. There are two global events for ODIs, but not a single event for test cricket.
However, times seem to be changing now. Subhash Chandra, owner of the Essel Group, who previously managed the rebel Indian Cricket League has some really galvanizing plans. Chandra is back with another idea of a rebel league. But this time, the league will be a global outing and will be parallel to the ICC. Atleast, this is what people can understand after the Essel Group recently acquired two website domain names which clearly read out as “global cricket” and “world cricket”. The ICC has been taken aback by this sudden development.
Chandra’s plan is crystal clear indeed. He and his group of analysts know that cricket, like football has captured global attention. The ICC on the other hand, is ill treating the cricketing nations which have taken just infant steps in cricket. Tier three nations do not have proper education of the game. The gap between the rich and the poor is simply widening. And now, the ICC has also decided to make the World Cup a ten team tournament. With this callous uprising, teams such as Canada, Netherlands and Ireland have sternly revolted. Without the World Cup, there would be no motivation for them to excel in cricket!
This revolt is decisive for Chandra. The head of the Essel Group can commence his league by taking into confidence the cricket boards of these nations. Chandra and his team’s persuasive skills would matter a lot. The Essel Group will have to provide the ignored cricket boards with a complete sense of direction and purpose. If Chandra’s aides manage to do that, then they will gain a strong competitive advantage. Having the backing of small cricket boards will boost their strategies to a great extent.
The Essel Group will also have to make a mark in cricketing nations such as India, Pakistan, England and Australia. Without these nations, the plan will be a mere joke! There are thousands of aspiring cricketers in these nations, who deserve to don the national colors, but never get the opportunity. This mainly happens because of the inefficiency within the domestic circles. It will be imperative for Chandra to begin his campaign from the grassroots. Rather than looking at players from an intra state basis, he will have to do that from a suburb to suburb basis
The most challenging part though, will come while striking a deal with these players. The neglected cricketers would still demand a considerable amount of money after they evaluate their personal talent. Pooling the money for this factor will be a colossal challenge without second thoughts. Finding cricket grounds with modern amenities will be another hurdle. The stadiums under the jurisdiction of the ICC are out of the question.
If Chandra has to attract viewers, then he will have to literally build world class stadiums. Millions of dollars will have to be pumped in for that. Since the Essel Group manages channels like Ten Sports, broadcasting wouldn’t be an issue. Funding will be the biggest headache. Chandra atleast needs to have anything between $1 billion to $2 billion on the table, if he is to succeed. Having the backing of a financially healthy investor will make things a lot simpler.
Previously, the Essel Group tried to emulate the success of Kerry Packer by commencing the Indian Cricket League (ICL). But, the ICL did not have reputed stars, nor was it played on any lovely ground. Once the IPL mesmerized viewers, the ICL simply fizzled out. The allegations of corruption and financial irregularities within the ICL did not help their cause either.
If Chandra’s initial goals look positive, then he can take the backing of a cricket consultant as well. People shouldn’t be surprised a bit if that consultant in the future is none other than Lalit Modi. Modi has strong resentment against the ICC for its partiality. It was Modi’s idea which gave birth to the Indian Premier League. Modi’s backing for this project will surely amplify the chances of success.
The ICC should immediately take the happenings of the Essel Group as a stern warning. With the ICC and the Big Three specifically making a mockery of test cricket, the resentment within cricket viewers is increasing. Test cricket is the ultimate form of the game but the Big Three have made it a joke by not scheduling enough games. It’s high time that the ICC reacts, before it is way too late.