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Accountability - What does that even mean?

Last updated on 15 Jun 2023 | 12:42 PM
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Accountability - What does that even mean?

By taking the sport for granted, the BCCI not only has been doing a big disservice to its own credibility but also showing a complete lack of respect for the real foundation of the sport - the cricket fans

It is June 2023. Four years ago, during this time, the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England was in full motion. One of the most slickly-organized cricketing events ever, the quality of cricket in the edition made it an all-time classic. Do the memories of that incredible edition seem daunting years ago? Well, it does because it is.

World Cups occur every four years, and we are just three months away from another quadrennial event that is bound to take the world by storm. Like the edition in 2011, it will create a different level of buzz in India. Cities will don a carnival avatar, and brands will queue up to ramp up their marketing campaigns.

But do the real stakeholders care?

At first glance, the situation appears deceptively straightforward, yet we find ourselves without a schedule, with reasons unbeknownst to anyone. While accountability has never been a prevailing focus within the sphere of the BCCI, the current state of affairs represents a new pinnacle of indifference. It has left a bewildered fanbase in its wake, eagerly awaiting the announcement to solidify their plans for the event.

On May 27, right before the Indian Premier League final, Jay Shah, BCCI Secretary, revealed that the schedule would be announced during the World Test Championship Final at The Oval between June 7 to 11, but then ICC Chairman Geoff Allardice said, “we'll be publishing that as soon as we possibly can,” indirectly explaining how ICC’s hands are tied because the schedule is invariably the responsibility of the hosts.

"When we put on events, we very much work hand in hand with the hosts. And in some places, there's a lot of consultation that needs to take place, both within the cricket system and with governments, etc. There's a lot of responsibility on a host to deliver a good event, and they've got to go through the right checks and balances,” Allardice said during an interview on the BBC's Test Match Special.

There is definitely the Pakistan factor at play as well. India’s refusal to play in Pakistan over the years forced them to take a harsh stance, which has been propelled by the fact that India decided not to let Pakistan host the Asia Cup 2023. 

However, the emergence of this situation was not entirely unforeseen. Both the BCCI and ICC were aware of the potential hurdles posed by Pakistan, raising questions as to why proactive discussions were not initiated at the opportune moment. The purpose behind engaging in a prolonged waiting game becomes uncertain in light of these circumstances.

An ICC World Cup transcends the boundaries of a mere cricketing spectacle. Its significance has grown exponentially over the years, attracting corporate travel giants like and DreamSetGo, who invest millions to be official partners of ICC events. Fans across the globe seek more than just witnessing cricket matches; they yearn for immersive experiences and the opportunity to explore uncharted corners of the host nation. By postponing the announcement, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has not only deprived the cricket-crazy Indian public but also dealt a blow to the broader Indian tourism sector.

Under the stewardship of Steve Elworthy, the previous edition of the event in England witnessed an exceptional level of execution from his team, tirelessly striving to establish an unmatched ambiance in the annals of cricketing events. In 2022, Australia, seizing the reins with determination, orchestrated a remarkable T20 World Cup following the momentous 2020 Women's T20 World Cup a few years prior.

During the 2011 edition of the ICC World Cup, jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, an event committee was established, with Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI's chief administrative officer, assuming the role of managing director. Spearheaded by the then ICC vice-president, Sharad Pawar, the organizing committee comprised a diligent operations and planning group consisting of Mahbubul Anam, senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, N Srinivasan, secretary of the BCCI, Duleep Mendis from Sri Lanka, and Ratnakar Shetty himself. However, as of now, no such plans have been set in motion.

In India, loyal cricket fans have endured a sense of being taken for granted. Not long ago, a premium Test match between India and Australia in scenic Dharamshala was moved out at the last minute due to the unpreparedness of the pitch. This last-minute change left numerous cricket enthusiasts in despair as they were forced to cancel their meticulously planned flight and hotel reservations, left to lament their unfortunate circumstances. 

The financial muscle of the BCCI has ensured that no board would ever raise their voice against them, for cricket has become a unilateral powerhouse in India. But by taking it for granted, it not only has been doing a big disservice to its own credibility, but also adding a complete lack of respect for the real foundation of the sport - the cricket fans. When will they wake up from their slumber?

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