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India’s growing dominance perilous to cricket: report



BCCI President Roger Binny (centre right) and Secretary Jay Shah (centre left) pose with other board members after the 91st BCCI annual general meeting in Mumbai on October 18, 2022. — BCCI

LAHORE: British newspaper The Financial Times has raised concerns over India’s growing dominance in the cricket world, which could be perilous for the sport.

The report noted that the Ashes series between England and Australia was considered the pinnacle of cricket since the 19th century, but it is now losing its place, with India emerging as a cricket superpower.

Both powerhouses feel that the pulse of world cricket has shifted decidedly elsewhere as India is fast dethroning England and Australia as the ultimate power in the world of cricket, a revolution in the game that fans in London or Melbourne have never seen before.

Ever since the country launched the Indian Premier League in 2008, it has brought unprecedented wealth to the game. Its teams now attract the world’s best players and have bought new international franchises. 

India’s governing body dominates global decision-making, and the country’s share in global cricket revenue is greater than that of England and Australia combined.

Even India is influencing how the game is played.

Test teams like England are increasingly adopting the crowd-pleasing, aggressive playing style of the IPL’s short, fast-paced T20 format. IPL chair and former BCCI executive Arun Dhumal said: “India’s influence in world cricket cannot be overstated.”

The IPL has been a game changer not only for Indian cricket but also for world cricket. Hosting the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup in October has proved a useful tool for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time when he is projecting India as a rising power.

Many of the World Cup’s most important matches, including the final, will be played at its political arena in Ahmedabad, the world’s largest cricket ground, the Narendra Modi Stadium.

But some see India’s growing dominance as a threat to the game, because the country has more control over cricket rules, finances and politics.

The BCCI, run by loyalists of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, can be a blunt display of that power.

India refused to travel to arch-rivals Pakistan for the upcoming Asia Cup, which led to the rescheduling of the tournament with many matches in Sri Lanka.

India’s influence is only growing, with the ICC agreeing to a new revenue-sharing deal this month to cement the country’s financial dominance.

Between 2024 and 2027, the CCI will take about 40% of the ICC’s revenue. At $230 million a year, that’s about 6 % of England and Australia.

Some say that the bulk of India’s wealth threatens teams like the West Indies. Indian teams such as Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders and tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai Indians have bought franchises in new T20 leagues everywhere from South Africa and the Caribbean to the United Arab Emirates.

The first season of the American T20 tournament began this month. IPL teams are now pushing to change the rules to allow players to sign year-round contracts, bringing them into an international club model, to be transferred from league to league. 

Players like England’s Jason Roy and West Indies’ Andre Russell have already turned down international contracts to play for global IPL franchises, a trend fans fear will lead to fewer stars available for international tournaments, including the Ashes.

Critics say it would cause irreparable damage to international matches, the traditional foundation of cricket. 

A recent financial report by the England and Wales Cricket Board identified the growth of global franchise leagues as a major threat, replacing long-form international Test matches with T20 leagues.

However, India has not maintained its dominance in the field, having not won an ICC tournament since 2013 and losing to Australia in the final of the World Test Championship last month.

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