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Ehsan Mani calls BCCI’s ‘bluff’ of parallel ICC

BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel’s recent comments about the Indian board threatening to form a parallel world body if the ICC didn’t agree to its terms has been met with stern criticism from former ICC president Ehsan Mani.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Mani said he was “astonished” that the ICC took the threat seriously, and said that a similar situation had occurred when he was at the ICC’s helm. He said Patel’s comments were “laughable”.

Mani didn’t reveal which country’s board had threatened similar action when he was ICC president between 2003 and 2006. “I am talking from personal experience, when I was ICC president, when a country threatened not to take part in ICC events,” he was quoted as saying. “And all I did was to speak to other Full Members, and that included countries like England, Australia, Pakistan and West Indies and at that time, and they made it clear to this country that was making threats that they would only work within the ICC and would not break ranks with the ICC. And once this country got that message, it realised its threat was absolutely hollow.”

Mani said during his tenure, boards from other countries had come together to stop the Full Member from breaking away, and felt that Australia and England, who together with India form the Big Three, “panicked” when the BCCI made such a threat. “They (the ECB and CA) should have just stopped and thought about what is in the best interest of the game, instead of panicking which they clearly did – and started trying to compromise the organisation… This should have been done pragmatically, looking at the pros and cons. In the very least, the BCCI would have been asked to put its proposals in writing and say fine, we’ll look at it, we’ll have it analysed, and come back to you. But to actually then delegate England and Australia to talk to the BCCI, they started looking after their own interests.”

The BCCI would have “realised once it calmed down that this was a very hollow threat and their whole bluff could be called and they would be embarrassed if it ever got out publicly,” Mani said, explaining how the situation could have been avoided.

Mani said attributed the attraction towards the IPL to the participation of foreign players, without whom “it wouldn’t be that attractive, it would just be a national tournament being played in India. It’s the foreign players that make the difference and what the cricket boards don’t appreciate is that without their players or their former players, it (the IPL) wouldn’t be as attractive for people to come and watch.”

He further explained that the BCCI’s plans of staging the IPL twice in a year wouldn’t have worked as well, as players from other countries are bound by contractual obligations and “the BCCI would have been liable for huge amount of damages for inducements to break contracts.”

Mani agreed to India’s financial clout in the game as well as its billion-strong population contributing to majority of its audience, but “it doesn’t give the BCCI the ownership of that income of world cricket, which is what they have tried to do now.”

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