The BCCI was in the news recently once again – this time for getting the lion’s share of US $ 230 mn from the annual revenue of the ICC totaling US $ 600 mn. This amounted to 38.5% of the overall ICC kitty. The sheer volume of the money received by the BCCI, whose coffers are already overflowing, raised the hackles of many. Quite predictably, other cricket boards – mainly that of Pakistan – protested, challenging the ICC formula that decides on who gets how much.
BCCI is easily the richest cricketing body in the world with a reported net worth of $2.25 billion with Cricket Australia at the second position with $ 79 million. It is also one of the most prosperous sporting bodies in the world. While it should surely be a matter of pride for all of us that our central governing body is as rich as it is, we also deserve to know how this huge corpus is utilized.
Sharply divergent ideas are mooted on how best to use these funds. One suggestion is: why can’t the BCCI come to the rescue of other games in the country that are starved of funds. Can portions of it be channeled into other sports like badminton, volleyball, basketball or kabaddi that suffer from paucity of resources? Or should the funds be spent on cricket itself? This author’s personal view is that given the overall situation a lot remains to be done to promote cricket in the country in a more systematic and concerted manner. Therefore, the money, in all fairness, is best spent on cricket itself.
Let us not get lulled into believing that all is well with the game just because of the success of the IPL and the vast surplus of BCCI’s financial reserves. The game requires a far more comprehensive ecosystem to ensure that it nurtures talent on a sustained basis so that we never run short of great performers at the world stage. After all, how can we lose sight of the fact that we have not won a single ICC world championship since the 2011 ODI World Cup. Why is it that we always falter at the last stage of such tournaments, as it happened in the World Test Championship recently, and are found wanting in one department of the game or another during crunch moments? Are there some crying needs of the game that need to be met? Here are some suggestions:
• Very little is done to promote grassroot level cricket. Great talents like Yashasvi Jaiswal or Rinku Singh that the IPL showcases every year, are all rags to riches wonder stories. They have come around on their own, with zero intervention from any resource. They have all played cricket barefoot in their formative years, led lives of grinding poverty, fighting every odd under the sun to make it to the top. The day has come when the BCCI may consider formulate talent spotting programs to identify such talents, have scholarships to support and nurture them right from the beginning. Also, assistance to local associations and clubs would help improve the quality of cricket at the grassroot level and help to identify and develop new talent.
• Cricketing infrastructure in the country needs to be developed to match the image of the country internationally. We surely are the leading cricketing nation in the world but are our stadia, cricket academies and support systems anywhere near the best? The BCCI should never forget that every penny that reaches its coffers comes from the pocket of the vast number of cricket fans in the country and from overseas. The Board, therefore, needs to provide much better spectating facilities to the fans who throng the stadia in lakhs to watch the game. Cleaner toilets, better seating, availability of clean drinking water and quality food, better parking facilities, etcetera, should be on the top of the agenda of the Board. New cricket grounds and stadia in mofussil towns would reach the sport to the millions who cannot afford to visit bigger cities to play or witness the game.
• The Board needs to support women’s cricket in a big way. Women’s Cricket Associations need financial support which would help to improve the quality of women’s cricket in India and would help to improve the profile of the game among women and girls.
• Corruption in cricket in India is a major problem that needs to be addressed. It mars the image of the game and its players. Shocking scams are unearthed from time to time that bring a bad name to the game. A lot needs to be done to keep this menace under check. The BCCI need to augment the resources of its Anti-Corruption & Security Unit (ACSU) in a big way, both in terms of manpower and its technical resources. Assistance of international corruption fighting entities like SPORTRADAR should be taken. Today betting, fixing and communication related thereto have all gone virtual, making countermeasures that much more difficult. The ACSU needs to upgrade its technical expertise to meet the challenge for which the BCCI need to fund them.
• The BCCI should promote research in the field of cricket. There should be grants for research projects in universities which are cricket specific. Our country should take the lead in this direction.
• Video analytics are the order of the day. If a sportsperson wants to take his game to the next level he/she has to take assistance of this technical tool. While this is already being done at the top levels, this facility has to be made available at state and junior levels also. This requires money that the BCCI can easily provide.
• BCCI funds the National Cricket Academy at Bengaluru that is providing yeoman service to the sport. Such academies and training institutions are required at regional levels so that quality coaching can be given to players at the regional levels also. Financial resources with the BCCI are best spent in creating such institutions in the country.
What is required is a well-thought out and well researched road map for the BCCI to spend its vast financial resources for a holistic development of the game. India should not only be the leading cricketing nation in the world but also the torchbearer in setting high standards of cricket management in all its complexities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neeraj Kumar is former Commissioner Delhi Police; Joint Director, CBI and former Head of Anti Corruption & Security Unit, BCCI. He has authored best selling books and is distinguished commentator on television.