One might see the return of Packer era cricket if the report of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Strategic Working Group (SWG) becomes reality.
Delhi is supposed to host the ICC meeting on Thursday (May 17, 2018) and the main agenda of the meeting will be the 18 threats reported by the International Cricket Council (ICC’) Strategic Working Group (SWG). Threats like breakaway rebel governing body, the proposed T10 format and lack of interest from broadcasters are the main topic of discussion.
The SWG comprises Cricket Australia’s David Peever, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, Singapore’s Imran Khwaja, Cricket South Africa’s Patricia Karambami, West Indies Cricket Board’s Dave Cameron and women’s representative Clare Connor.
The Group will update BCCI office-bearers -- Acting President CK Khanna, Acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary, and Treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhry -- on global strategy for cricket.
“Yes, there has been a threat to ICC. A very well-known former cricket administrator (currently banned) along with an Indian TV channel and an Australian lawyer had approached a lot of players and officials in order to form a parallel global body. They had named it ‘Operation Watershed’ then,” a senior BCCI official said on condition of anonymity.
“They wanted to form parallel associations in each country and were offering a lot of money to the players. The project didn’t take off but there’s no reason that it won’t take off once again,” the official said.
Though not concrete, in 2016, there were reports of sacked IPL commissioner Lalit Modi approaching officials from England and Australia to form a parallel body, a speculation that dies down as quickly as it took off.
“The T10 league is also a matter of concern. More so, it was organized by Emirates Cricket Board (last December) with a lot of current players like Eoin Morgan, Shoaib Malik, Dwayne Bravo taking part,” the official said.
The main topic of discussion is threat no.8 in the report, which reads: “Uncontrolled private investment into sports by commercial operators whose interests are aligned with short-term financial gains rather than long-term health and growth of sports.”
“In a way, it is true. Save Star and Sony (networks), there aren’t many who are ready to invest huge sums in cricket. So if it’s a two-horse race, then you know that there aren’t new broadcasters coming in,” the official pointed out.
The report also speaks about “Collapse of traditional broadcast/sponsorship” and the threat from unspecified “political uncertainties”.
(With PTI inputs)