There are nuances from this week’s ICC board meeting in Dubai far deeper than the simple Orwellian concept of “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” espoused in the classic Animal Farm at work here.
Cricket’s lucrative pie has already been carved up into three helpings, India being apportioned the biggest plate, with England and Australia divvying up the remainder and the other Test-playing nations – South Africa included – being thrown the crumbs.
At issue is a stranglehold over a sport which holds well over a billion believers on the sub-continent in thrall, has a fervent following in Australia and is generally given a warm reception at the gate in England.
Across the rest of the globe – with the obvious exception of the outgunned Bangladeshis and the nomadic Pakistani national side – cricket has its place in the pyramid of importance, but it certainly isn’t at the pinnacle.
Even in this country – and bear in mind that we are the world’s top Test nation – international cricket does not attract anything like the crowds a Soweto soccer derby would take as a given.
If, as the ICC continues to insist, one of the major aims of this toothless lap dog of the Big Three – India, Australia and England – is to spread the game, the tacit acceptance of what the board put forward in Dubai is a travesty of the truth.
Admittedly, it could be argued that the major shareholders – the nations which produce the bulk of the vast inflow of television income – should receive the major dividends. Business – and cricket is a business – works like that.
But it is disingenuous in the extreme to preach one gospel and practice another.
For the demands of the Big Three, granted in principle in the Emirates and almost certain to fly past the full council of the ICC’s annual conference set for Melbourne in February, cut even deeper.
At issue is the insistence that more tours between the members of the power triumvirate be layered onto an already sagging ca-lendar. The only viable alternative for those on the outside looking in is scandalously to go along.