New Delhi: Some call it the Board of complete Control in India and some the Board of complete cricket control internationally. BCCI, as we know it is the Board of Control for Cricket in India - the big daddy of World cricket and according to some the big bully.
Be it their refusal to come under the surveillance of the World Anti-Doping Agency or showing indifference towards Test cricket, or refusing to make the Decision Review System universal despite all other countries being in favour, the Indian board has always had its way at the international level.
"About 70-80% of the sponsorships all over the world come from the Indian market. Therefore obviously the BCCI has a little more perhaps clout or influence than the other boards. But I think this could possibly be just a little bit of the wheel turning, because there was a time when there were other boards who were very, very powerful, had a veto power etc.," former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said.
Being rich can't be a crime though. In a country where most other sports struggle to make ends meet, the BCCI needs to be applauded for not only being self-sufficient but also for being one of the richest sports bodies in the world.
Turning the IPL in one of the biggest sports property on the planet, is another feather in BCCI's cap. But what the most powerful cricket board in the world also needs to recognise is - with great power comes great responsibilities.
"BCCI generates 70% of the income and 80% of the viewership in world cricket. But does it also give any leadership to world cricket? We need to remember that while ICC maybe the voice of cricket, the BCCI is the invoice," Late MAK Pataudi had said.
The BCCI has also been often criticised for not being transparent in its functioning.
Senior cricket journalist Mr Pradeep Magazine says, "unless you are a chamcha (sycophant) of the BCCI it is impossible to get stuff out of them".
"There is not a single player, no matter what his stature might be, who can take up BCCI and show eyes to BCCI including Sachin Tendulkar," Rahul Mehra, Sports activist said.
Recently, the BCCI removed Mohinder Amarnath as the selector after just one year, but when asked why, the BCCI didn't feel the need to answer. "This is like putting me through an exam. We appointed Mohinder Amarnath," BCCI President N Srinivasan had said after Jimmy's removal.
And those that refuse to toe the BCCI line, like Kirti Azad and Kapil Dev, are left isolated. " There is no protection for whistle blowers," Mr Azad, who is also a member of the Delhi District Cricket Association, said.
The BCCI is also slammed for its dictatorial ways. For example, the BCCI has refused to recognise some of the state associations. Cricketers from 30 BCCI recognised teams play competitive cricket at the highest level, and from them one champion emerges. But some don't even get the chance to compete. States like Uttarakhand and Bihar not to mention a number of Union Territories are not recognised by the BCCI.
"North-east is completely neglected and so the BCCI needs to get them under their fold so that it can be a vehicle for change for them," Rahul Mehra said.
But along with the wrongs, there are also a lot of rights that the BCCI is doing.
The BCCI has not let the passion for this game die in India. It has in fact ensured that India can look at the gentleman's game in a different way.
"It has made cricket a career option. Once it becomes a career option, what happens is that you get the best of players coming in - otherwise sometimes you lose out on some very, very good players because they realise there is no future in the game," Mr Gavaskar said.
In less than 15 years' time the match fees of an Indian first class cricketer has increased about 800 times. The fees for turning out in a Ranji trophy encounter used to be about Rs 450 a day in the 90s. Now it stands at about Rs 35,000 a day.
In short, the BCCI shares 26 percent of its profits with players. International match fees have been increased from 2.5 lakhs for Tests to 7 lakh rupees.
"We are earning money to promote cricket. Look at the infrastructure in different states. The kind of money we are spending on junior cricket. The kind of payment we are making to our players. In the entire world we are creating a paradigm. Not only that. We are organising over 55,000 matches every day through our state associations. So the entire money is being ploughed back in the game no office bearer or association member is taking any money. They are all on honorary positions," Rajiv Shukla, senior BCCI member and IPL chairman said.
Add the match fees to the number of endorsements most India cricketers get these days and one can say that the BCCI has helped every team India player become a millionaire. "I think they have got the players to improve the standard of the game. Winning the World Cup in 1983, 2003 finalists, winning it in 2011, 2007 T20 World Cup - I think the consistency has really gone up. I think it calls for a real applause for them," Anjum Chopra, former India captain of women's team, said.
That anything to do with Indian cricket is hot property has become a given, thanks to the marketing skills of the BCCI. The TV rights of Indian cricket also went up by approximately Rs 8 crore per match when Star TV bought them earlier this year.
The IPL singlehandedly has ensured the BCCI has earned enough money for the game. No wonder then they are the richest cricket board in the world. And they have done a good job of disbursing that money too. "They have collected a lot of moolah for the benefit of cricketers. They are parting with fair amount of money to all associations every year. Also they have started the pension scheme these are all lot of positive things, "Mr Bishen Singh Bedi said.
Their infrastructural work has ensured top class stadiums have come up in Pune, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Internationally, the BCCI has used its power for constructive steps like helping South Africa return to international cricket and helping Bangladesh get Test status. Within India too, the BCCI has contributed to other sports by parting with Rs 50 crore.
"The best thing about the BCCI is that it has got a voice on international arena. The kind of effort we have put in after that the game has become so big that entire world is listening to us," Mr Shukla said.
The saying is 10 good things can be forgotten if you do one bad thing. That's probably the case with the BCCI. People have continued to criticise them despite their good work because they have refused to come under the Rights to Information act.
The joke doing the rounds is that if Board games become a part of the Olympics, then the BCCI would surely win the gold medal. But the bottom line is the BCCI is still having the last laugh. They are still the most successful cricket body in the world and the best sports body in India.
Story first published on: Wednesday, 19 December 2012 09:10 IST