Cartelization of Cricket

Cricket is no longer a game of bat and ball that is played for the sake of enjoyment and entertainment. Today, it is being transformed more and more into a game of money and politics. The game itself and the players are being relegated to the background. The controllers of the game, the ICC (International Cricket Council) has attained the status of not just a manager of cricketing affairs around the world but the very owners of the game itself. The players have been reduced to slaves of the governing bodies. They are not allowed to play in any other match or tournament which does not have the blessings of the ICC or the domestic cricket boards. Any player who dares to defy the ICC risks losing his right to play cricket for his country. The right of the game to spread and flourish is thus being held to ransom by the greed of a few individuals who may well have difficulty in spelling the name of the game, let alone play it. The bureoning parallel cricket body in India, the Indian Cricket League (or the ICL) is out to provide more opportunities for cricketers who have otherwise been given the cold shoulder by the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India). The emergence of the ICL has caused a major flutter in the ranks of the BCCI and the ICC. The BCCI is already having nightmares of having to share the spoils of cricket extravaganzas with the ICL. It also means that the BCCI and the ICC can no longer sleep on their money and let the quality of player welfare languish as they are now. With competition from a second organization, the players will definitely prefer the organization which offers better pay packets and better welfare. In keeping up with such competition, the BCCI, which has so far been enjoying an unquestioned monopoly over cricketing affairs in India, may well find itself in a position where it has nobody left to control. This nightmarish vision has unnerved the BCCI and the ICC and propelled them into action. Through an autocratic decree, the BCCI in collusion with the ICC imposed a ban on all players playing for the ICL. In their desperation to protect their monetary control over cricket, the BCCI in collusion with the ICC is trying its level best to nip the ICL in the bud. It has even resorted to egregiously cheap tactics such as stopping the pensions of retired players who have joined the ICL. However unjustified it may sound, the ICC and the BCCI have been allowed to get away with their inequitable stance thus far.

Now, the flagrant politicisation of the game by the self styled "lords" of world and Indian cricket (read "ICC" and "BCCI") makes one ask a few pertinent questions. Should the ICC and the BCCI be allowed to get away with such unwarranted high-handedness for their selfish ends? Should the right t0 play cricket for one's country be the preserve of solely the affiliate boards of the ICC? Should not the players have the right to decide who they play under and still retain the right to play for their country? Is it the birthright of the BCCI to decide who is going to play for India and who isn't? I am sure that the ICC or the BCCI won't have any answers to these questions but to everybody else, the answers are very obvious and simple. It cannot be the prerogative of a single entity to control the laws and the future of a game. The game is much bigger than any individual or organization. Every organization and individual of this country and for that matter, any other country, has the right to contribute to the betterment of the game. The game cannot be slave to the whims and fancies of a few tight-fisted individuals. The objective of every game is to progress and to attain more and more popularity. To achieve this, it is essential that more and more cricket be played and more and more players be given the opportunity to blossom. So, rather than try to obstruct the progress of the ICL, the international cricket fraternity should welcome the creation of the ICL. In fact, more such organizations should be encouraged to come up. Alas, greed for money has muddied the game with subversive politics and unscrupulous individuals. As of now, it seems that the ICL will have to fight long and hard before it can earn its rightful place in the cricketing world. Of course, what is right will definitely prevail in the end, and when eventually that happens, and the ICL gets its due, more such organizations may come into the fray, and the game may finally be able to spread its wings lot faster than it is today.



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