Leading Edge: CSA turn T20 pariah into paragon, but India are unamused

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

REMEMBER when T20 was cricket’s great Satan, the monster that swallowed players whole and spat them out in unattractive bits of their formerly fine selves?

The batting, bowling, bastard brat that made the real thing look hopelessly staid or utterly irrelevant or both?

If you’re South African, you remember that time as if it was yesterday. Close. It ended last Friday.

The next day Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced they had asked for tenders for their “#T20 Global Destination League”.

With that, T20 went from pariah to paragon and became what would give transformation a shot in the arm, slow the flow of signatures onto Kolpak contracts, and ease financial pressures on the franchise front.

If that seems too neat and tidy to be true, that’s because it is.

The new tournament is likely to accomplish a good deal of its goals: this is not an attempt to poke holes in the merits of the venture, all of which are worth pursuing.

But existing problems like player workload – we can’t complain about the Indian Premier League (IPL) if we’re going to add an event to the calendar – could be exacerbated and new ones created.

Top of that list is the straining of South Africa’s relationship with India, which suffered because of the objections the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had about CSA’s appointment of Haroon Lorgat as their chief executive.

That happened in July 2013 but only recently, helped by the removal of Narayanaswami Srinivasan as BCCI president and that of his henchmen, has some of the damage been repaired.

The BCCI are in deep ethical and, probably, legal trouble in the wake of Srinivasan’s reckless misrule.

At the International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting in Dubai last weekend India were represented by a court-appointed committee: not exactly the kind of group that attracts bullying strongmen.

The new financial model that was accepted in principle at that meeting will apparently cut India’s share of the revenue from the sale of the 2015 to 2023 rights cycle by up to US$185-million.

That’s compared to what they could have earned under the prevailing system, which is dominated by the Big Three.

But if that makes suits in other countries – like ours – think that means India are not the boardroom force they were, they need to think again.

For all its problems the BCCI remains world cricket’s cash cow, and therefore its godfather.

For instance, while South Africa’s share of ICC money under the new funding plan could grow by as much as US$25-million, CSA could still earn US$150-million less than the Indian board.

The perspective offered by those cold, hard figures should help illustrate why it remains a stupid idea to piss off the Indians.

An alarm, then, should be ringing at CSA’s offices.

Only because the BCCI have more pressing issues to attend to have they not made their displeasure known about CSA’s boast that their new tournament has attracted significant interest from potential investors from India.

It’s not the BCCI’s place to tell millionaires how to spend it, but this is the organisation that tried to tell a national board on the other side of the world who not to appoint as their chief executive.

The Indians are unhappy that some of the money that could go into their coffers might go into CSA’s instead, and reports in India saying CSA have told their IPL players they want them back by May 8 from a tournament that ends on May 21 will not go down well. 

Yes, ‘Srini’ has snuffed it. But the world that produced him remains rudely alive and kicking.

Tread carefully CSA: India are due to tour next summer …

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