The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has reacted sharply to International Cricket Council (ICC)'s communication to member boards asking them to submit expression of interest to bid for global events in the 2023-31 media rights cycle. This ICC move effectively amounts to telling its members that the two new world events it plans to add to the 23-31 rights cycle are deemed to have been approved.
At the ICC Board meeting last October, the global governing body had proposed two additional world events—a 10-nation T20 Champions Cup in 2024 and 2028. That apart, it was also proposed to have two six-nation ODI tournaments—Champions Cup that will replace the Champions Trophy, to be held in 2025 and 2029. Despite objections raised by the BCCI representative at ICC, the events were given a provisional green signal.
When Sourav Ganguly took over as BCCI president last October, CEO Rahul Johri formally wrote to ICC, objecting to a move that would amount to staging one global event every year in the 2023-31 cycle. Subsequently, Cricket Australia (CA) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) also expressed reservations over plans to stage additional ICC tournaments. "What happens if none of the important boards express interest to host these tournaments? Where will the events be staged?" asked BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal.
"The move has never been approved. If it was approved, why are they calling for expression of interest? These are two contradictory statements. They are seeking an approval now," Dhumal added.
Bilateral cricket holds immense value for self-sufficient boards like BCCI, which sold its last five-year rights for a whopping R6,138 crore (R60 crore per match). These bilateral matches would be directly affected if ICC adds more world events in the mix—the revenue from which would go into the world body's coffers with members getting a proportion of the profits.
"Increasing ICC events will have wide-ranging repercussions on bilateral cricket and therefore all aspects need to be discussed and analysed threadbare. It is imperative that the working group discussions are completed, and a report/recommendation are sent for the ICC CEC (Chief Executives Committee) to consider," Johri had written to the world body.
The new BCCI office-bearers, who took over from the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators, have had several informal meetings with ECB and CA—who have their own cricket calendar to preserve. BCCI, CA and ECB all have flagship T20 leagues—IPL, Big Bash and the (soon-to-start) Hundred respectively to safeguard. The three boards have already come up with plans to formulate a four-nation Super Series, which is seen as a move to scupper ICC's plans to expand its calendar.
With the ICC elections set for June and the Big Three of world cricket unhappy, all indications point to heated rounds of meetings at the ICC meetings in Dubai next month.
BCCI is upset with the ICC top brass for pushing for more events. "I don't know why they are rushing into things when they know the ICC Board would be re-constituted after elections. Until there are proper deliberations, what is the point of sending this kind of communication?" Dhumal asked.
"This is no way to run an organisation. It's an organisation where you should have consensus of members. When there are reservations expressed by important member boards, seeking consent in this form is not the right approach," he added.