Jan 16 2010

Money grubbing

Some very interesting news is coming out of India regarding the Indian income tax department’s assessment of the BCCI’s tax status.

The tax department has looked at the BCCI’s returns and has confirmed what many of us have been suspecting of the BCCI, that they are much more concerned about their bottom line than they are about advancing cricket. They have determined that the BCCI are “totally commercial” and that “cricket is only incidental to its scheme of things.” Despite pulling in 2.7 billion rupees in 06-07, the tax department has noted that the BCCI has not developed any infrastructure or constructed any facilities.

All power to the BCCI for making so much money out of cricket. However, that profit is only a good thing if it is used for the promotion of the game. So it is a crying shame that the BCCI are treating their surplus as a profit.

It is of vital importance to the game that the various cricketing boards operate as charities (or not-for-profit). Profiteering is simply incompatible with developing the game. Developing the game requires investing in youth cricket, improving facilities and promoting the game globally. None of which will draw short-term profit, or even long-term monetary profit necessarily. Running cricket as a business will push the game towards the lowest common denominator.

Also, if the BCCI are conducting their operations on a purely commercial basis, that casts an unpleasant light on their ICL bashing activities. If the BCCI trying to quash the ICL was simply the action of one commercial entity against another, then it looks awfully like uncompetitive activity. And involving other cricketing bodies such as NZC in this looks potentially like a cabal.

But even if you are happy with the BCCI making money and comfortable with cricket being run on a commercial basis, there is still the issue of the BCCI’s tax status. Until it was revoked by the tax department, the BCCI had charity status, presumably meaning its revenue is tax exempt. But if it is operating commercially, it should be paying tax. From its income of 2.7 billion rupees for 06-07 (pre-IPL it should be noted), it owes 1.2 billion rupees in tax.

In my view – much worse than a charity chasing profit, much worse than leveraging your size and influence to stifle competition – the filthy rich not paying taxes is the fricken’ worst.

Mar 2 2009

Losing like you’re winning

So the compromise solution cooked up by NZC to allow six Indian players to participate in the State Championship ahead of the test series without them having to play with or against the NZ ICL players looks like it has satisfied everyone. The BCCI is happy because none of its players have to play with the radioactive ICL players, the NZCPA is happy because none of its ICL players are being pushed aside and NZC is happy because the BCCI is not upset and the Indians should give the Championship a bit of a boost.

Really though, this is no victory for the BCCI. They are coming out of this and the masters match with egg all over their faces. There will be few cricket followers either outside or inside India who would think that the actions of the BCCI are anything other than childish. And they have achieved nothing for that.

The purpose of the BCCI’s position is to drive ICL players out of other countries’ domestic competitions by forcing those other countries to choose between their ICL players or India. Quarantining the ICL players from the BCCI players is just a means to that end, not an end in itself. So if all they have achieved is to avoid contact with ICL players without having them excluded, then they have failed.

If the BCCI really had the courage of their conviction they would refuse to allow their players to be involved in competitions involving ICL players. That is, no Indian players in the State Championship if any ICL players play for any team.

Mar 1 2009

Hoisted with their own petard

Could Heath Mills be the toughest man in cricket? I haven’t really heard of anyone else standing up to the BCCI, so I am really interested in what comes of Heath Mills insistence that the ICL players will not be forced to step aside to accommodate the Indian test players looking for a bit of practice by playing in the State Championship.

The situation is as follows: as part of the agreement to add more international matches to the tour, and thereby dropping the only scheduled warm up match, six of the Indian players, those selected for the tests but not for the limited over matches, would be allowed to play a game in the State Championship for one of the New Zealand domestic teams. However, the precedent set by withdrawing Tendulkar and Karthik from the exhibition 20-20 in Wellington has raised the problem of the fact that Canterbury, Northern Districts and Auckland all have ICL players who may play in the games that the Indians are supposed to be playing in, risking spreading their ICL cooties to the pure, innocent Indians, either as team mates or opposition. If the ICL players play, then the BCCI must withdraw their players, who will then miss their only decent warm up opportunity.

Obviously the BCCI would prefer that the ICL players be dropped (and the changing rooms fumigated). And not doubt NZC will prefer that option too. But the NZ Cricket Players’ Association is insisting, quite reasonably, that India should not be allowed to dictate who gets selected for NZ domestic teams.

No doubt there will be some contractual procedure for NZC to withdraw the ICL players, to satisfy the BCCI, and probably get the NZCPA to all in line as well. However, it is quite delicious to see the BCCI cause so much trouble for themselves by their own childishness.