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Over-reliance on India hampering growth: ICC report

The International Cricket Council (ICC), cricket’s world governing body, has started a drive to build its ‘independent identity’. In its update on the global strategy for cricket, the council’s Strategy Working Group (SWG) has cited over-reliance on India as its biggest weakness in its effort to make cricket a global game.

The SWG has also pointed out that ICC isn’t exclusively responsible for regulation of world cricket as the game is governed via the laws formulated by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

The SWOT analysis in the report, a copy of which is with TOI, says that cricket is not a truly global sport because of heavy dependence on revenues and fans from India. It also asserts that there is lack of aggressive expansion/growth strategy to counter over-reliance on India.

The report is set to be discussed at a meeting of the ICC working group and the Indian cricket board (BCCI) officials in New Delhi on Thursday. Interestingly, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri is a part of the SWG which has pointed out high disparity in distribution of world cricket’s income along with lack of financial sustainability of leading members. The BCCI had got into a heated negotiation with the ICC over revenues last year. And if the report is anything to go by, then the ICC is looking at further cutting BCCI’s share from its income to sustain other members.

The report has mentioned that there is a lack of engagement by other communities (non-south Asian, Caribbean) in non-traditional ‘growth’ markets. The report also states that competitive tension in broadcast markets is diminishing and the sport is seeing uncontrolled private investments by “commercial operators whose interests are aligned with short-term financial gain”. It can be recalled that Star bagged mega deals in Indian cricket this year.

ICC has also noted Anglocentric norms as one of its weaknesses. “The Spirit of Cricket is often seen as a fundamental part of the sport’s attraction but does not always translate identically in different cricketing cultures. Furthermore, the regulation of the international game is exclusively in English and decision-making is undertaken in English,” the report stated.

Interestingly, BCCI, ECB and CA had formed the ‘Big Three’ in world cricket when it came to revenue sharing. That model was later abandoned.

Torn between Tests and short formats

While the ICC is striving to sustain Tests, it is still uncertain about short-format leagues. The report has listed events like T10, a ten-over event, as one of its threats but it has also accepted that the format is an opportunity to popularise the game.

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