BCCI, ICL, ICC, and Karl Rove

In the 70s, a television guy from down under had the audacity to challenge the cricket establishment, and threatened to run away with the game

When Kerry Packer, with the help of Tony Greig, pulled of a major coup in 1977, the cricket establishments stood exposed. The guardian of the game, MCC, and the other cricket boards were too old-fashioned and archaic. Packer’s package of coloured clothing, playing under lights, white ball - were powerful enough visuals to ensure the rebel image. World Series Cricket had turned the game on its head.

It was not the love of the game that spurred Packer to plot this revolution. The rebels were the real big names of the game and the establishment couldn’t ignore the threat of losing validity. The firm (cricket administration) is a big business, in spite of its feudal nature. They gave what Packer wanted – TV rights to Channel Nine.

To quote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"There is a little bit of the whore in all of us, gentlemen," Packer said to the board at the time. "What is your price?"

By 1979, he had his answer. Having covertly signed 35 of the world's best cricketers in 1977 - including Lillee, the Chappell brothers, Tony Greig, Viv Richards and Imran Khan - to three-year deals, Packer's "circus" was eventually embraced by the public, which took to the concepts of night matches, colourful uniforms and modern television coverage. Acknowledging as much, the ACB approached Packer in a more conciliatory mood two years after the split.

A truce was reached, and Channel Nine has held the free-to-air broadcast rights for Australian cricket ever since.

Rick Eyre writes, “It is wrong to say that Kerry Packer personally revolutionised cricket – but his business sense, his audacity and his belief in the project gave the support to a bunch of people willing to innovate in an attempt to make the game more marketable. It is a fallacy to say that World Series Cricket brought the crowds back to the game – the attendance figures for Test cricket in Australia in 1976–77 show that they hadn’t been away – but now with increased TV rights and increased marketing and merchandising, there was more money flowing into the sport, and more to the players. More than anyone, the impoverished West Indian cricketers appreciated this.”

If Packer could sign international players on a three-year contract, why can’t the ICL do the same? The common factor of both the coups is the towering figure of Tony Greig; the man still has a big appetite for money! If Packer’s circus was a revolution, even though the motives were TV rights and revenue, ZEE TV has failed to create any revolution with the ICL.

There is nothing new about ICL; the ‘rebel tag’ bestowed upon the fledgling league by PR spin masters is a big hoax. ICL is not a rebel league; it is just a parallel league.

Many former and some current players have come forward in support of the ICL with all sort of altruistic statements. No one should get fooled by this “love of the game, for the betterment of cricket etc.” ICL is about greed and selfish interests and motives; it is about money – mo and mo money.

That Subhash Chandra launched a brand new sports channel, ZEE Sports, for the telecast of Indian cricket – and had in fact won the TV rights of cricket in India – only to be taken away from them by the BCCI on the basis of some ridiculous technical excuses. The other contender for the TV rights was Kerry Packer’s arch enemy – Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch owns a lot of influential TV channels – all of them are conservative, business-friendly TV channels like SKY, STAR, and FOX!

Back in 1998, Murdoch tried to steal Football in England by trying to take over Manchester United football club. He was trying to create a monopoly and he failed in his bid to buy ManU.

ICL is bound to fail, simply because the TV rights are guaranteed to Zee Sports Channel. It will always be seen as Zee Cricket – something like TNT Nitro Wrestling in relation to WWE. ICL will never be the Real McKoy.

What ICL has done is to open up a can of worms. It has exposed the existing establishment - the hypocrisy that rules likes of ICC, BCCI, PCB, Cricket Australia etc. Ladies and Gentlemen – none of these establishments are here to serve the game; they are here because of the money in it.

ICC moved their HQ to Dubai from London, a couple of years back, for the prime purpose of tax evasion. The state airline, Emirates, has consistently supported ICC (which means cricket?)…. Emirates is the official sponsor of the ICC umpires. Recently, Emirates bailed out Cricket Australia during the World Cup by sponsoring the Australian cricket team. Even if the state of UAE cannot differentiate between the rear side of a camel and the game of cricket – it still supports the cricket establishment! When it comes to supporting the game… oh well!

The domestic 2007-08 cricket season was to start in Dubai last week.

Gulf News reports:" Cricket in Dubai was dealt a severe blow with the Dubai Cricket Council (DCC) officially announcing that the 2007/08 season will not take place.

The sport has been fighting for survival ever since the seven cricket grounds at the Al Jadaf area were taken away for the construction of the Dubai Health City.

The announcement has crushed the hopes of over 2,000 cricketers in the city who were hoping that cricket will resume in Dubai."

So much for the love of the game!

In the meanwhile, in India, the BCCI is contemplating starting its own professional league! What sort of reception would the ICC and other cricket boards give to BCCI’s new premier league? All fun and games this is turning out to be.

With all this happening all around, what’s ICC, the keepers of the game, doing to save the situation? There are media reports that the ICC is set to recognise rebels who toured South Africa in the 1980s! If the report is true, ICC is about to slap on the face of Mandela and everyone who fought so hard against the apartheid regime.

Karl Rove recently announced his resignation from the Bush team; he has had enough of being the shadow president of the USA. The man is available; as the ICC President, Rove will provide the real leadership to save the game from the Cricket WMDs (BCCI, ICL etc) in the sub-continent.

There was an interesting report from down under, “Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has urged cricket boards around the world to act tough with players joining rebel cricket leagues.”

Sounds like George Bush threatening to take tough action against Iraq?

If Test matches (the real stuff) are to be played, no cricket league in India would hire Ponting, if they checked his record on Indian soil. In 12 Test matches, His Highness Punter has scored 128 royal runs at a majestic average of 12.28!

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