Of the hundred years that the International Cricket Council has completed of its existence, if they have spent more than three-fourths of it in prolongation of the theory of ‘The White Man’s burden’ (even if unwittingly), then the tables have turned in at least the last decade and a half as they have been toeing the line of the cash-rich (and therefore highly influential) Asian lobby.
The best present the ICC can deliver itself on its centurial anniversary is an honest introspection of itself. Does, as the apex cricketing body, it fulfil due obligations towards its rapidly increasing off-shoots? Forget fulfilling, does it try to? Or forget even trying, does ICC even intend to?
On its website, the ICC lists ‘promoting and protecting the game’ as its premier priority.
Watching the recent events in the Caribbean, one does beg to differ!
Can the West Indies Cricket Board look up to the ICC for a solution during their stand-off with their
own players over contractual issues? Or for that matter, does ICC inspire any sort of confidence or offer hope to any Caribbean cricketer of injustice being prevented?
ICC’s aloofness during the ongoing unfortunate turmoil in the West Indies was shocking. Bangladesh did record a historic triumph after their hosts were forced to field a second…no, actually a third string side due to the ongoing stand-off. But the fact is, that while the quality of Test cricket dilutes brazenly, ICC is happily turning a blind eye.
And the icing on the cake of this hypocrisy is that they are discussing plans to preserve Test cricket by introducing 4-day Tests and day-night Tests, and inducting pink balls and orange balls and what not!
A third string West Indies team playing a sub-standard Bangladesh side is killing Test cricket for Pete’s sake!
But horror of horrors, if member nations of the WICB do pull-out, as a Trinidad and Tobago official irresponsibly threatened recently, can the ICC do anything to stop it?
The ‘Unique Spirit’ of the game would also be preserved, ICC says.
One hopes this ‘unique spirit’ survives Daniel Vettori’s prophecy of a scenario where cricketers would be ‘forced’ to quit national colours in favour of IPL if the events continue to coincide.
Time, ICC believes (it seems), is the best arbitrator to all problems. It’s been almost two years and barring a few faint murmurings, the debate is still not closed on whether a separate window in the international calendar ought to be created for what is… BCCI’s domestic tournament!
Never have I heard the FIFA losing sleep over, say EPL, clashing with a World Cup qualifier. Both the tournaments are held on different platforms and co-exist accordingly with minor adjustments.
Sure as hell ICC can find a similar solution…if they want to!
Time is what the ICC seems to be relying on for a solution to Indian cricketers’ reluctance to toe the WADA lines on the ‘whereabouts clause’. As of now, a 5-man committee has been announced comprising 3 Indians including one BCCI official.
As things stand, the ICC, under BCCI’s pressure of course, might reject the very need of the WADA code for cricketers!
Whether the WADA code is justified or not, is a different matter, but ICC’s submission to BCCI’s whims doesn’t speak much for their preservation of the ‘unique spirit’.
‘Delivering outstanding, memorable events’ (like the super drab ICC 2007 World Cup), ‘Providing excellent service to Members and stakeholders’ (decline of the once promising Kenya as a cricketing nation betrays this intention) are among the other priorities of the ICC.
Unfortunately for the ICC, the game is not just surviving, but also flourishing, the credit rests entirely with the high quality action delivered on field.
The Ashes series, at 1-1, is evenly poise with one Test to go. A fitting climax is awaited to what has been a closely contested series.
Watching Zimbabwe and Bangladesh slug out hard has been yet another heart-warming experience. Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry's smashed a world record equalling 194 not out, only to see his team laid low by a blistering 154 from Tamim Iqbal of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh may have won the series, but it is cricket that has emerged victorious. It’s the likes of Iqbals, and Coventrys who would inspire a young kid in the civil war ravaged Zimbabwe to pick up a bat and ball and aspire to put his country back on the cricketing world map.
Cricket continues to provide the healing touch to Pakistan. What their Twenty20 World Cup win would have done to the game, none of ICC’s million dollar packages and compensations could have achieved for another 100 years.
Pakistan is one country that has been over-flowing with talent. Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamer and Umran Akmal are all gifted prodigies with the promise of an exciting future. With an ever maturing Shahid Afridi rediscovering his prowess and a captain cool Younis Khan at helm, Pakistan may just turn out to be the dark horse in the 2011 World Cup.
And yeah, while on Pakistan, PCB seems to be planning a bilateral series against India in England next year. Wow…that would be something!
Imagine an India-Pakistan Test match at the Lord’s. The deal, if it comes through, is a sure shot winner commercially, socially…and politically.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)