A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis carried out by the Strategic Working Group (SWG) of the International Cricket Council (ICC) lists over-reliance on Indian money as a weakness. The report mentioned the breakaway rebel governing body, the proposed T10 format and lack of interest from broadcasters among 18 ‘threats’ faced by international cricket right now. The SWG will discuss these issues with BCCI on Thursday.
The report mentioned the need to enlist the services of global influencers and cricket fans like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, and Indra Nooyi who was recently made the first female independent director of ICC.
The SWG which comprises of Cricket Australia’s David Peever, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, Singapore’s Imran Khwaja, Cricket South Africa’s Patricia Karambami, West Indies Cricket Board’s Dave Cameron and women’s representative Clare Connor mentioned Usain Bolt, Russell Crowe and Chris Martin among the non-Indian celebrity influencers who ICC seeks to make use of.
The document mentioned India twice, both times in the weakness section. “Not a truly global sport – heavy dependence on revenues and fans from India,” is listed as the top weakness. “Lack of aggressive expansion/growth strategy to counter overreliance on India,” the document adds according to a report by The Indian Express.
The ICC has mentioned ‘Breakaway governing body – rebel group’ as a threat and seeks to tackle it with improving the financial sustainability of all member countries.
“Yes, there has been threat to ICC. A very well-known former cricket administrator (currently banned) along with an Indian TV channel and an Australian lawyer had approached a lot of players and officials in order to form a parallel global body. They had named it ‘Operation Watershed’ then,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
He added that this group wanted to form parallel associations in each country and were offering a lot of money to the players. “The project didn’t take off but there’s no reason that it won’t take off once again,” the official added.
Another major concern that featured in the Threat category is the T10 format. However, the governing council plans to convert this threat into an opportunity. “Cricket as a sport should continue to capitalise on shortened format opportunities like T10,” the report says.
Last year in December, a T10 league was played in UAE, with cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Shakib Al Hasan, Keiron Pollard, Mohammad Amir and Tamim Iqbal participating in it. The tournament had turned out to be a major success.
Increasing private investment in the sport also made the list of threats at the 8th spot. “Uncontrolled private investment into sports by commercial operators whose interests are aligned with short term financial gains rather than long term health and growth of sports,” the report read.
The report further speaks about “Collapse of traditional broadcast/sponsorship.” Add to this, the threat from unspecified “political uncertainties”. Even though it doesn’t mention any names, this could be a reference to between India and Pakistan who have not been playing bilateral series owing to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and the volatile diplomatic ties.
The report also identifies 8 key areas where ICC plans to focus over the next five years – Fans, participants, women and girls, technology, cricket’s products, financial sustainability, cricket’s purpose, integrity and values.
Meanwhile, BCCI is not entirely happy with a few decisions that the ICC has taken in recent months, with some of its members even alleging that the Member Participation Agreement (MPA) has not been honoured by the world governing body of the game.
As per the MPA signed in 2014, India were to host 50-over Champions Trophy in 2021 but now BCCI has been asked to host the tournament in the Twenty20 format.
The move to put over-reliance on Indian money as weakness hasn’t gone well with the board as well. “The intent with regard to India is apparent. The decision to convert the Champions Trophy into a World T20 event is another such recent development,” a BCCI official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.