Since the International Cricket Council's controversial revenue-sharing restructure in 2014, which essentially shared revenue back towards the three wealthiest members (India, England and Australia), international cricket competition has actually gone backwards on a global scale.
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When should the selection of a cricket team come with a photoepilepsy alert? This is how the BCCI announced its team to tour Sri Lanka via Vine in October 2015:
"This is the second most important day in world cricket, according to me. The first was in 1994 when the monopoly of Doordarshan came to an end when we won the court case."
- Inderjit Singh Bindra, member of the IPL Governing Committee, discussing the IPL player auction, OutlookIndia.com, 20.2.08
Call me a cynic, but Bindra is not too far off the mark with this self-serving observation.
Justice Hansen's report on the Harbhajan Singh appeal case arrived from the ICC in the form of a 22-page document yesterday evening. The Australian has converted it to one very long HTML page - but beware, it contains:
- Frequent Coarse Language (in English and Punjabi),
- Violence (Harbhajan Singh slapping Brett Lee's buttock),
- Sexual References (see Frequent Coarse Language and Violence),
- Horror (the ICC's disciplinary records database),
- Adult Themes (discussion of the appropriate standard of proof with reference to "The Queen on the application of Dr Harish Doshi v the Southend-On-Sea Primary Care Trust"), and
- Not-At-All-Adult-Themes (see Frequent Coarse Language, Violence, and Horror).
Harbhajan Singh's successful appeal against his Level 3 transgression, and its replacement with a Level 2 charge, seems on the surface of things to be the right decision, though I think the penalty imposed (50 per cent of his "match fee" - whatever that is) is light. The use of obscene language in an abusive context, regardless of the language in which it is spoken, is abhorrent.
We will know later today more about Justice Hansen's reasons for the findings when he releases his full written statement. Meanwhile, the reports that are coming out concerning back-room deals before the appeal hearing are very disturbing.
The hearing of Harbhajan Singh's appeal against his ICC Code of Conduct breach has begun in camera in Adelaide today. Appeals Commissioner, Justice John Hansen, briefed the media yesterday on the procedures to be undertaken.
With due legal process taking its course under the watchful eye of a New Zealand High Court judge, why then:
- Is the BCCI demanding that Harbhajan Singh be found not guilty?
- Has the Indian team refused to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne today as scheduled until the outcome of Harbhajan's appeal is handed down tomorrow?
- Have Indian team sources claimed that the squad will return home if Harbhajan's "racism" charge is not dropped?
Are they attempting to influence the outcome of the appeal through public threats? Are they going to refuse to accept any decision they don't like? Having had the appeal hearing delayed until the conclusion of the Test series, are they trying to do "whatever it takes" to keep Harbhajan Singh available for selection for the Indian eleven?
"Attempting to pervert the course of justice" - does this rather ugly cap fit the BCCI head?
Absurdity follows absurdity in the latest contretemps that positions world cricket somewhere on the spectrum between WWE wrestling and the personal life of Britney Spears. Frankly, it has elements of both. There's the hyped-up petulance and faux conflict of the prima donnas dressed up as professional sportsmen.
A bit of preamble before I write my thoughts about the off-field events of the past 24 hours.
I have seen very little of the Sydney Test, won by Australia late yesterday afternoon. I was on holidays with my daughter for most of the week and listened to the second half of Sunday's play on the radio at home. (If I really wanted to, I could probably have made the dash across to the ground when they threw the gates open for free at 4.30pm.)
The wealthiest sporting body in the world not to have its own website, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), wants to buy the worldwide broadcasting and new media rights to all ICC-run tournaments from 2007 to 2015. There is just one word that should be said, if not screamed, in reply:
Never mind that the BCCI's current executive conducts business with a coherence and transparency that makes the North Korean Government green with envy, it's the simple conflict of interest involved in one franchise owning all the most lucrative rights to a competition in which it is one of the players.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is an organisation that "promotes sport", according to the Indian finance minister.
A wire report carried by various Indian news websites on Wednesday said that the minister in question, SS Planimanickam informed the national upper house, the Rajya Sabha that the BCCI is registered under Section 12A of the Income Tax Act, which provides income tax exemptions for "charitable institutions".
The BCCI is deemed a charity by virtue of Section 2(15) of the Act, which states that the "promotion of sports and games" is considered to be a "charitable purpose" for the intent of the legislation.
So there you have it. Not only does the BCCI have the purpose of promoting the game of cricket, but it is a charity! File that away for future reference...