ICC New Mantra – Frying Small Fish

ICC (International Cricket Council) has once again failed to live upto the expectations. Banning Asif, Aamir and Salmat Butt over spot fixing will not rid the sports of the match fixing. These are small frys. Players who will be replaced by the next generation willing to risk it all.

For almost twenty years, when Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were caught sharing information with bookies, world cricket is plagued by the match fixing allegations. The situation, like in Warne and Waugh’s case, was quickly brushed under the carpet and forgotten while in case of India and Pakistan, some bans have occurred. However, it were always the players being banned and never the real sharks, the ones calling the shots, the bookies themselves who have never been caught.

By banning Azhar, Malik, Butt or even Cronje the world is not better off. The sport is not even close to being clean from match fixing. Heck, the fixing will go on with new faces and new methods by the big money that bookies command.

ICC under Haroon Lorgat, needs to take this matter more seriously and needs to go beyond a behind the doors closed meeting to catch the culprits. By frying small fish like Aamir and Asif, they will not get anywhere.

Alas, this world cup, I will not be tuning in to see it. Its not because it is not exciting, but because ICC is willing to do half measures to save their own skin than really save the game for its true fans. Too bad, because cricket is a great sport and due to its administration handling it poorly, it is losing its fan base.

IPL – A beginning of an end

IPL League

IPL League

For the past many years, BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) has used strong arm tactics to dictate its terms and vision to the rest of the cricket playing nations. There have been lots of complaints from organizers, respective cricket boards and even the die-hard fans. But ICC (International Cricket Council) has done nothing to control the growing, at times, abusive power of the BCCI.

BCCI’s latest venture, IPL (Indian Premier League) is just another attempt by which the world of cricket is kept hostage to the Indian Board’s whims. The idea of a premier league was originally borrowed from ICL (Indian Cricket League) which the BCCI banned for no apparent reason. ICL, led by former Indian Captain and legend Kapil Dev, has been clamoring for recognition from BCCI as well as ICC, but to no avail. ICC keeps referring them back to BCCI which in turn keeps refusing them audience.

IPL Cheer Leaders

IPL Cheer Leaders

It is no co-incidence that IPL has copied many elements from the hugely successful ICL, including foreign players mixed in with Indian greats. There is also a requirement to play a few juniors in each team. There are even cheer leaders with each team  to get fans into a frenzy, not unlike the cheerleaders in America’s NBA or NFL. These and other innovations to the game have been blatantly copied by IPL from ICL. The reward for ICL so far has been, that it has not been recognized at any level. And all  stars who play in the league get an automatic suspension from representing at the international level for their respective home countries. Hence, cricket greats like, Abdul Razzaq (Pak), Brian Lara (West Indies), Shane Bond (New Zealand), Damien Martin (Australia) have been outrightly banned from national duties.

Quite recently, their under arm tactics have lost them many fans even in Pakistan. Their recent one-sided decision to drop all Pakistanis from their league is another blatant attempt to show their hegemony over the sport. Players like Sohail Tanveer (highest wicket taker in the inaugural tournament), Shoaib Akhtar (the media show man and a crowd puller), Shahid Afridi (The fans favorite) are left in the cold while the next edition of the tournament gets underway this weekend in South Africa. In fact, even the Pakistani umpires (who actually represent ICC and not their respective countries) have been dropped without any logical reason.

The players from Pakistan are beginning to get together to sue the league for damages as the league owes them close to 4 million dollars and according to the contract they cannot take one sided decision.

And oh, the world media is also boycotting this year’s IPL in South Africa as the terms and conditions enforced by the BCCI are considered unsuitable for open and impartial journalism. Therefore, this year’s event will not be covered by the media as a whole.

This ugly situation by BCCI is enough to get any fan to turn away. Already, there is a huge disappointment in Pakistan (one of the world’s most cricket crazy nation) and chances are the TV viewership will plummet drastically as a whole in South Asia.

There are some growing concerns among the fans of cricket as well. We wonder who actually manages cricket? Is it BCCI or ICC? Why is ICC letting BCCI dictate its terms? Just because BCCI can throw a few dollars here and there, should we actually forget our morals and ethics to appease them? Would such tactics bring in more fans or will just turn them away?

I for one see it as the beginning of an end. Such tactics and many others will only result in fans turning away to other sports. BCCI should heed to the cliché, what goes around, comes around. The dangerous game that they are playing will one day come to bite them and bite hard it will!