“Not a truly global sport – heavy dependence on revenues and fans from India…”
One sentence, listed under “weaknesses” in a SWOT analysis that is part of a 25-page ICC document called “A Global Strategy For Cricket – Update”, dominated the agenda of the meeting between the BCCI and the ICC working group to develop a global strategy for cricket. On the eve of the meeting, which was held in Delhi on Thursday, 18 full members of the BCCI joined a teleconference and took a “dim view” of the development. The BCCI threatened to call a general meeting to consider and deliberate on the Members’ Participation Agreement with the ICC to “safeguard the BCCI’s interest before the same is executed on behalf of the BCCI”.
After the meeting, the ICC was in damage-control mode. “It’s listed as potential weakness but I would actually focus on it as a strength,” the ICC CEO David Richardson said. “We need Indian cricket as part of global strategy. It’s certainly a strength that we have such a huge cricket economy behind us. It’s not a big issue from weaknesses point of view; if anything it’s a reminder for other countries that they cannot rely on India alone, they need to do something themselves.”
The BCCI is certain that the sentence will be removed from any further discussions.
“If Sachin Tendulkar was the dominant batsman for India, you didn’t try to find ways to cut down his scoring,” a BCCI official said. “You asked other batsmen to start scoring more.”
The meeting was a first among the updates the ICC plans to give its member boards.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their positive commitment to the strategy, their time and energy today and their feedback which will now be incorporated into the ongoing development work,” Richardson said. “We have a number of further member meetings scheduled to do the same thing as part of ensuring we end up with a comprehensive global strategy for the long-term good of our sport.”
The meeting itself was cordial. “They were totally on the defensive once they knew what the BCCI’s stance was overnight,” another BCCI official said. “Other than that there is still some way to go for any decisions to be taken in this group.”
Two other interesting matters in the document were “breakaway rebel body” and “cricket events like T10”, under threats in the SWOT analysis. “It’s a quite historical fact,” Richardson said. “Don’t forget whenever you do a strategy paper they do a SWOT analysis. Sometimes it will focus on threats or weaknesses that exist. Sometimes these are real and big risks, sometimes they are just there, not a threat, and this is the case here.”
T10, interestingly, is filed under both threats and opportunities. The ICC’s position regarding T10 is to wait and watch: to not lose out should it become popular but to watch out if the format outgrows its ambit.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.