Cricket is no longer the gentlemen’s game. If anyone was in doubt, the confirmation came on Saturday from Singapore where the Executive Board meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) took place. At that meeting, eight out of the ten full member countries voted for the change of the ICC constitution and its financial regulations. The changes would alter world cricket in an unprecedented magnitude.
Most people are naturally averse to change, but unfortunately change is one of the universal rules that are inevitable. Some changes are positive and good. But, for anyone carefully going through the new changes at the ICC, there are salient issues that point alarmingly to the root of all evil.
For a sports body, the prime subject of attention should obviously be the sport they govern. But, for the ICC, it appears that money has become the priority. These are sad times for cricket, because a sport that is adored, worshipped and has simply become a way of life for billions of humans, appears to have embraced today’s money culture, while shedding the values and principles on which the game was built for centuries.
For once, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) stood for the right thing and all stake holders of the game approved their stance. It appeared an easy decision as everyone who had an understanding of the draft proposals had no difficulty in recognising the sinister scheme packed neatly inside glamorous words and terms, designed to hand over the world cricket’s controlling powers to just three members – India, England and Australia. The only criterion to pick these countries specifically was their financial might over the rest of the cricket world.
So, the whole country applauded the brave decision taken with much hoopla, though for a straight-thinking mind it obviously was a simple decision the only decision that could have been taken. Most cricket lovers refused to believe that SLC actually decided to go against the new proposals, merely due to a stinking reputation they had built through years of alleged corruption and political manipulation to be notoriously referred to as a den of dubious activity dominated by unscrupulous elements.
But the world out there, unfortunately, is not made up of perfect conditions for justice, fair-play, ethics, principles and victory for good guys. It is the bitter truth of our times, and no society on earth is immune to that. Today, the sole yardstick for righteousness appears to be money and power. They will define the good and the bad, heroes and villains.
SLC was anyway between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they went against, they were to earn the wrath of the big three, which would have financially destroyed Sri Lanka and isolated them in the cricket world.
If they supported it, they would still have been worse off financially and would have been forced to feed off the scraps falling off the table of the big three.
So, understandably, they chose the opposite path with the fleeting hope of blocking the steamroller, and added the script of good morals and standing up for principles for good measure that helped them avoid a public outcry locally.
Now that South Africa have infamously back-stabbed SLC, eaten their own words and jumped into the bandwagon for unknown under-the-table financial gains, the wheel has already turned.
As SLC abstained from voting and had promised to make their stance known at the next ICC Executive Board meeting in April, they have two choices.
One is to stand for the right thing, oppose the Goliaths of cricket world and challenge the new changes of ICC legally at a global court such as the International Court of Arbitration for Sports and risk an isolation similar to what South Africa faced in the days of apartheid while also taking a mighty financial hit that would be a killer punch to the SLC which is already reeling under a massive debt blow.
The other is to grin and bear it, expressing support for the blatant injustice perpetrated openly by the rich bullies, in front of the whole wide world while striking a few deals and just eke out a living for the next few years, hoping for better days ahead.
Last year, SLC brutally cut a payment worth millions of rupees to the players. This was a twenty percent chunk of SLC’s income from all ICC events. It would appear poetic justice to players that ICC has now decided to cut SLC’s share of the revenue from ICC events.
It may happen locally or internationally. It may happen on a small-scale or big-scale. But it shows us one thing clearly. What happens in this world is not Cricket.