An Article from Australian Newspaper

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  1. Anushiv

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    An interesting reading about the status of Indian in the international cricket arena:coffee

    A reverse swing in fortunes
    Peter Lalor | February 09, 2008
    CRITICS of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s agriculture minister Sharad Pawar complained recently of his ad hoc, almost distracted, approach to the bird flu crisis threatening large parts of the country.
    Pawar had more important things on his mind.
    The powerful politician was busy controlling the Indian cricket crisis in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Australia</st1:country-region> over the Harbhajan Singh racial vilification case, ensuring that the sport's administrative bodies were aware of <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s muscle and risingoutrage.
    Pawar wears two hats: government minister and president of the Board of Control for Cricket in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>. It is difficult to know which job carries more power or prestige.
    There was a time when <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> was the runt of cricket's litter. The British game spread through its <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bombay</st1:place></st1:City> communities at the turn of the last century, but the game never treated the subcontinent as an equal player.
    Indian teams pleaded to be allowed some space on the international calendar and begged for teams to visit its exotic grounds, but were treated as little more than a nuisance fordecades.
    Donald Bradman is worshipped equally there as here, yet in 1948 the cricketer refused to step off a ship in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bombay</st1:place></st1:City> to greet the great crowd and cricketers who had gathered to see him. Bradman was en route to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">England</st1:place></st1:country-region>.
    Restrictive economic laws of the recent past even meant prize money could not be taken home. In 1979, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Australia</st1:country-region> paid the airfares during its tour of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region></st1:place> and in 1986, the prize money had to be left behind as it was illegal to take currency off-shore.
    Fortunately for the under-19s who toured soon after, there was plenty of spending money in the bank accounts of the Australian Cricket Board (as it was then known).
    A confluence of events has seen <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> become the most powerful cricketing nation in the world in a frighteningly short period of time. One day it was having sand kicked in its face, the next it was lording it over the former bullies of the beach.
    The economic liberalisation of the country in the 1990s saw money flood into <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> and Indian merchants profit like never before. <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> seems to be spawning a new billionaire every month.
    The change also saw television deregulated in a way that makes <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s restrictive media policies look Stalinist by comparison. Almost overnight, <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> went from one government-controlled channel to 100. The majority are privately owned and cheaply available to everyone.
    On top of those changes came the revolution of the internet, made possible by the decision of US companies to cable the subcontinent. The Americans wanted cheap labour that could systematically failsafe its systems against the Y2K bug.
    The changes formed the perfect platform for an eco-social storm, and at its eye was <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s greatest sporting love: cricket.
    Two years after <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> launched its economic reforms, the world cricket community decided it was time for a level playing field.
    Until then the members of the International Cricket Council all had a say on matters, butEngland and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region> had right of veto (until 1965 it was known as the Imperial Cricket Conference).
    Around this time, the far-sighted Jagmohan Dalmiya rose to prominence at the BCCI.
    An Australian cricket official who had a lot to do with him said he changed the face of Indian cricket.
    Until then, the BCCI had been run by very wealthy patrons of the game, but Dalmiya was different. Although he didn't become president of Indian cricket until the '90s, he was on the board for years and pursued an aggressive equalisation plan that said they were the equals of <st1:country-region w:st="on">England</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region>, a former international cricket office-holder said.
    He had a very clear vision of bringing other countries, such as <st1:country-region w:st="on">Sri Lanka</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zimbabwe</st1:place></st1:country-region>, into the ICC and he made sure they were looked after. He made sure <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> played in those nations and they made money from Indian cricket.
    Dalmiya formed the Asian Cricket Council, but more importantly he developed an Asian cricket voting bloc. He ran events that made money for the smaller nations and he made sure they owed Indian cricket, so that any time <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> needed numbers at the ICC it had them.
    <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> was the first country to embrace <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">South Africa</st1:place></st1:country-region> after apartheid. It ensured <st1:country-region w:st="on">Sri Lanka</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> were part of the World Cup in 1996. It organised international one-day tournaments in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Malaysia</st1:place></st1:country-region> and other non-core cricket locations.
    Aiding Dalmiya's patronage plan was the explosion in the Indian media and the dizzying rise in money offered for cricket television rights. In the past Indian cricket didn't generate real revenue from selling itself to the one state-controlled channel.
    Yet by 2006, Nimbus Communication outbid 14 other bidders and paid $612 million for the rights to broadcast the game until 2010.
    It onsold the overseas rights for $130 million but will reap the rewards from its investment in advertising dollars.
    Corporate <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> cannot get enough of cricket. Nike pays $45 million to get its name on the team's uniforms and contributes to the $1 billion in revenue sponsors pour into the BCCI coffers.
    The board makes money despite itself.
    In 2005 it voted against the idea of international Twenty20 competitions. Yet when one television group organised the rebel India Cricket League and an American billionaire created the Stanford League in the <st1:place w:st="on">West Indies</st1:place>, the BCCI reluctantly reacted.
    It agreed to the idea of the 2007 T20 world championship and, in a spoiling motion, allowed vice president Lalit Modi to create the privatised Indian Premier League.
    <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s young side won the T20 championships, an event that caused what might have been the greatest national celebrations ever witnessed in the country. In the following days the Indian stock market stormed to a new high and commentators credited the boost to the cricket triumph.
    A few months on, the BCCI was boasting that its stopgap IPL television rights had generated $1 billion and that private corporations had paid $800 million to buy the rights to the eight franchises.
    By comparison, in 1993, <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> had sold its rights to a tour by <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">England</st1:place></st1:country-region> for $40,000.
    In <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region>, television rights for the Test, One Day International and Twenty20 matches rake in a paltry $40 million a year.
    <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s economic weight has led to an enormous imbalance. It is estimated it contributes 70 to 80 per cent of all cricket revenue.
    <st1:country-region w:st="on">Australia</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">England</st1:country-region> could survive without <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>, but only in an impoverished manner. The other six Test playing nations rely on the rupee for survival.
    <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> spreads its favours wisely.
    <st1:country-region w:st="on">Australia</st1:country-region> believed it was in line to win the 2011 World Cup but <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> got the crucial West Indies vote after kindly inviting the <st1:place w:st="on">West Indies</st1:place> to some of its one-day tournaments at home and abroad.
    World cricket stands by, smiling and rubbing its hands nervously. The whole business makes it nervous, but not as nervous as the thought of missing out on the spoils.
    When <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> got its nose out of joint after the Sydney Test, the BCCI board members ran an operation to get its way. At the heart of it lay the oft-stated threat to abandon the tour.
    One anonymous board member boasted recently that <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> could easily pay the millions in fines incurred from cancelling the present One Day International tournament with the profits from the IPL.
    In reality Cricket <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region> would have picked up the tab, but it told its players that it would take 10 years to pay off the debt.
    BCCI powerbroker and Pawar associate Inderjit Bindra was in Australia recently to negotiate a peace between the two countries and denied that his country wanted to be a superpower of cricket that dominated others, as England and Australia once did.
    "If we are feeling bad about something, we should not repeat the same thing," he said.

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