Big Brother & the Pandemic: 'BCCI has lived up to its bilateral relations' | Cricket News

MUMBAI: Despite the odds, ominously dictated by an unrelenting pandemic, the Indian cricket team went ahead and finished playing the entire white-ball series in Sri Lanka as scheduled.
As the series progressed, players – both Sri Lankan and Indian – began testing positive; an injury-ridden depleted squad – rattled off to be a ‘B’ team – began bordering on the ‘C’; and the team – an alternate one in the first place – kept running out of players with each passing day, only to be left with just eleven (not counting the standbys) to finish off the last two T20 Internationals.
In getting this series done, the BCCI – often exaggeratedly vilified for its so-called “autocratic” style and “inconsiderate” manner of functioning – ended up adding another feather to its cap. As the cricket fraternity in general began wondering if India would pull out of the Sri Lanka tour, the Board did something to the contrary. It decided to stick to its commitment and invest some trust in Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to ensure smooth sailing.
In September last year, with the first wave still busy dispersing havoc, the cricket board had dealt its first wager. It decided to go-ahead and conduct the pending edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL-14), making it happen in a different country altogether at a time when part of the industry had written the tournament off for the year.
In doing so, the BCCI had stood by its stakeholders – Star India and the eight franchises who had much to gain and a lot to lose between the tournament happening and not happening.
Two months later, in November, the Indian team embarked on the tour of Australia, which until October had appeared to be getting shelved for lack of clarity on part of Cricket Australia’s (CA) own scheduling and corporate mess, its governments policies and independent protocols followed by Australia’s all-powerful states.
All along, the Indian cricket board stuck its neck out for other member boards of the ICC. It’s being seen, by administrators globally, as an effort on part of cricket’s ‘Big Brother’ standing up when it matters.
“It’s indeed a feather in the cap. It’s a statement on part of the BCCI that it is willing to stand by its commitments at all costs. It’s a sign of great reassurance for the industry at large. Boards were staring at huge losses because of the pandemic. CA would’ve been forced into bankruptcy. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) was on the verge of a disaster. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has earned close to Rs 150 cr because of the IPL. The ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) appreciates India’s concern too,” say those tracking developments.
Some commitments are borne out of compulsion, some out of relationships, some out of general commitments and a few based on the overriding perspective of a “better tomorrow” (read: bilateral relations going forward). On all counts, the BCCI surprised member boards of the International Cricket Council (ICC) no end.
“This is a different BCCI from the past. For better or for worse? Time will tell. But it’s making sure it keeps its bilateral relations intact at all costs which is great for world cricket,” say those tracking the Board. “The Indian team is scheduled to travel on tours of New Zealand and the West Indies and these cricket boards, their partners, sponsors, even the cricketers would feel better at the prospect of a friendlier BCCI. That’s a good sign,” sources say.
The BCCI is not really a sports federation known for its public relations.
“It doesn’t have that bone. It’s never had one. Good, bad, that’s how it has always functioned. Every once in a while, a savvy entrepreneur or a businessman or a politician would find the need to engage with stakeholders publicly, including the media. But that aside, it has always been a closed-door organisation,” sources say.
Even from a legal standpoint, after having taken over from the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), the BCCI seems to be making some right moves.
“Look at how the Board has gone about. They challenged the arbitration against Deccan Chargers and won, they’ve won the arbitration against Sahara Warriors too. The WSG matter has been resolved in their favour. A year ago, the BCCI was staring at a billion-dollar payout. And now, suddenly, things look different. They’re now gearing up for a new franchise tender, a new media rights tender, surely a new beginning,” say those tracking developments.

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