From "CRICKET" to "ENTERTAINMENT"

From "CRICKET" to "ENTERTAINMENT"

This article is not written by the authors of Cricket Tracker. This is written by one of our fans, Hamza Khan, who is a business graduate from Brunel University in London. He feels that business and the spirit of the game needs to be balanced and an attitude adjustment is required at the top. I, on behalf of the Cricket Tracker community, present you his article.

Alex Obanda sweeps during his innings of 80

“Whats best for Business?” asks Hamza Khan

Are we about to witness the transformation of ICC (International Cricket Council) to ICE (International Cricket Entertainment), more like that of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) where you through a punch at your opponent with a money back guarantee that it won’t hurt him it’s all for entertainment? Same is the case with what the Big Three are proposing, intense competitive cricket on show in the coming years only on their terms, at their backyard and for the entertainment of their crowds who bring in the most revenue and the surprise winner as them. For the rest of us all they have to say is “Come on folks get on with it…..this is what’s best for Business”.

What BCCI, ECB and CA are proposing is not new to cricket as most of us had experienced it while we were kids and a 10 year old threatening to be given not out or being allowed to bat twice as he brought the bat and would leave with it if not listen to. Guess what happened the dictator was allowed a few goes at a few occasions to the point where we all got fed up and showed the bully his way back to the pavilion without caring of what he leaves with and picked a raw piece of wood from some construction side and enjoyed rest of the game , fair and true.

By now we all should know where we stand, who we dealing with and what we should do. I am not a scientist but I surely know a bully allowed once comes twice.  If this goes by it won’t be a surprise to see “Dale Steyn being forced to ball wide outside off stump to Virat Kohli who smashes it over long off in to the stands where a bunch of wealthy fans had bet on it and went home ever so happy”, then again, it’s best for Business. Considering all match fixing and spot fixing scandals around arguably this is what happens in IPL, but then again, it’s best for Business. Most of us if not all already watch the game with something such at the back of our minds, know what it’s all scripted. Then I argue myself, we all head to cinemas to watch Hollywood movies knowing it’s all scripted but they are the ones to make the most revenue so may be the Big Three are right this is what’s best for Business.

At the end of the day it’s a capitalist world we all had to witness the capitalization of honourable institutions such as Health care and Education then why are we crying a river for cricket? But what’s best for business does not necessarily turns out to be the best for the spirit of the organisation and the community at large. Ask your selves do we know and love cricket for the money it makes or for the spirit it holds.

When it comes to Business, I am a business student (Graduated from Brunel University in London last summer) I might not be good at it but have learned a thing or two. What we are arguing here is that BCCI, ECB and CA are the most revenue generating markets for ICC at the moment therefore more funds should be allocated to them so that cricket as a whole can prosper. The deal looks good on paper but let’s read between the lines. First thing first not any as such facts and figures are made public regarding how much money every individual board or country is generating. Secondly the working group of the ICC Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee which made the draft proposal so secretly is controversial in its self as it consisted of only one member from the West Indies board and rest of all members were from BCCI, ECB and CA which are the ones to be most benefited from the proposal therefore, the credibility of the draft proposal comes under question.

In doubt of my understanding and knowledge, I would therefore refer to the 13 page statement of Ehsan Mani, “who served as ICC president from 2003 to 2006 after beginning his involvement with cricket’s governing body in 1989.” Mani’s background in chartered accounting and corporate governance, via numerous board directorships, served him well at the ICC, when he took a major role in growing television revenue through his post as the head of the ICC’s Finance and Marketing Committee from 1996 to 2002. He is a known advocate for growing the game into new markets such as the United States and China. Mani described the process by which the proposal was drawn up in secret and then presented to the other Full Member nations as an indicator of “serious weaknesses in ICC’s governance”, Mani raised numerous concerns about the proposal itself, particularly its financial modelling for the next eight years and assumptions about how much money an individual board or country is worth to the game as a revenue-raiser.”

According to Mani, “BCCI, ECB and CA say in the Paper that they will provide greater leadership and stability to the ICC and its Members. In return they ask the Members to hand over powers of the ICC Board to them. They do not demonstrate how they will do this in any

meaningful way. They do, however, plan to make significant financial gains for themselves and completely control the workings of the ICC to the exclusion of the other members.”

“The Position Paper of the Working Group should be withdrawn and referred to an external independent panel to review and comment on. BCCI, CA and ECB should have no part in this process or subsequent discussion on this matter as they are clearly conflicted.”

“The Directors, President, Chief Executive and management of the ICC have had no role and input in, or knowledge of the preparation of the Paper even though it comes from a working group of the ICC Finance & Commercial Affairs Committee,” Mani wrote. “It also appears that some members of the F&CA Committee were not invited to join in the discussions leading to the Paper and were not even aware of the discussions taking place.”

“Full Members were summoned to a meeting in Dubai on 9 January 2014 and presented with this Paper. From all accounts it appears that the President and the Full Member directors of the ICC had no prior knowledge of the contents of the Paper and the President had no role in convening the meeting; he was ‘invited’ to the meeting by the BCCI, ECB and CA although it was a meeting of the F&CA working party of his Board. No Associate or Affiliate member director was invited to the meeting.”

“The Three Boards have completely undermined the integrity and standing of the ICC, its President and the Board of Directors in promoting their own agenda without due and proper discussion by the Board. Clearly, the right standard of Boardroom behaviour is not seen to be in place.”

“It assumes that the members have proprietary interest in the money their countries’ economies generate for ICC events. The fact is that broadcasters buy cricket rights because it appeals to their customers, drives subscriptions and advertising revenues.”

“Similarly, sponsors use cricket to promote their goods and services. While the values are generally greater when the broadcaster’s country is playing, not all of this can be attributed to the individual country’s Board. The quality of the opposition has a great bearing on the value Boards receive for their media rights. A strong case could be made that the broadcast revenues for bilateral home and away series between two members should be pooled and shared equally.”

“While there would be a significant reduction in the value of the ICC Commercial Rights if India did not participate in an event; it would not be a reduction of 80% of ICC revenues. The Indian broadcasters would still wish to broadcast ICC Events. There would be a relatively greater impact, than the values attributed to Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies in the Paper if these three countries did not participate in an ICC event. From discussions with broadcasters, if a World Cup was held without Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies ICC revenues for the event could be reduced by 30%-40%.”

Moreover ECB and CA currently might be at 2nd and 3rd place in generating most revenue (facts and figures unknown). Their markets look to be in a more maturity state than that of the growing BCCI’s, again no account has been taken or shown of the growth ratio of individual country boards. As per the concept of Market Life Cycle in business, we all know a market moves from maturity state to the state of decline (unless significant innovation occurs) therefore assuming ECB and CA at maturity, they will shortly see decline. Also no time frame has been given regarding BCCI’s growing market entering maturity and subsequently decline. Any significant innovative plans to keep the markets alive are not mentioned anywhere in the proposal expect for blindly demanding total control of ICC functioning. In the absence of innovation and the proposed dictator like structure of the ICC it will be close to impossible to promote the game into new markets such as China, U.S.A, and the rich Arabian Gulf.

The proposal lack supporting documents such as an investigation into why other cricketing countries such as West indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who have all won and hosted major ICC events such as the World Cup, Champions Trophy and T-20 World Cup are unable to generate revenue. Instead of wasting time and money by coming up with such ridiculous drafts, ICC should look into its governance first and get the balance right with not allowing any one nation to dictate strategy and decision making and facilitate the representation off all permanent members if not all associates.

Not all problems should be considered as cureless cancer and treated by cutting and throwing away. If BCCI, ECB and CA have financial concerns, all member boards must sit and come up with a more professional, systematic and credible solution. What can be done is to set up a committee consisting of all members to look into ways of uplifting the markets of all permanent and associate members and also to take the game into new markets. Funds should not be just allocated to individual country boards but rather a more systematic procedure should be in place to work closely with the country boards to identify problem areas, make a plan, allocate funds and keep close check and control on how well it went through monitoring growth in revenues in the respected markets.