Neil Perera challenges Indian hegemony in the governance of cricket

Neil Perera, courtesy of The Island

The Sports Editor, The Island

Dear Sir,                              

B.C.C.I. Hegemony at the I.C.C…  The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have, it appears forgotten the days when the England and Australian Cricket  Boards dominated the International Cricket Council till about 2 decades ago, when these 2 countries had Veto Powers which could throw out any proposal put forward by the other countries. Sri Lanka was the country that was worst affected, in that both England and Australian Cricket Boards vetoed our application for Full Membership for nearly ten years. (We first applied for full membership in the early seventies) Thereafter the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) successfully spearheaded a proposal to abolish the Veto Powers of these two dominant members of the ICC in the early 1990’s and was ably supported by the Indian and Pakistan Cricket Boards(PCB) .

It is very distressing that the BCCI had forgotten the ignominious manner in which these 2 dominant members treated the other  Members of the ICC. At the time I attended the attended the ICC meeting at Lords in 1992, as Honorary Secretary of the BCCSL, I had the opportunity of exposing the highhanded manner in which the ICC had been operating in the immediate past. The former England Cricket captain Sir Collin Cowdrey was the President of the ICC at the time. When I was Hony. Secretary of the BCCSL from 1973 to 1976, the then President of the PCB, Abdul Hafeez Kardar who had played for Oxford University, for India before partition in 1947, and later captained Pakistan, was so angry that Sri Lanka was not given Full Membership during that period that he accused the ICC of racial discrimination.
Emboldened by  the remarks of Mr Kardar which were firmly registered at the back of my mind, the hallowed precincts of Lords did not deter me, as Hony. Secretary of the BCCSL in 1992, from  venting out my feelings about the manner in which England and Australia had treated us.  I compared the Lords Conference room to a jungle scenario where the larger animals ate to their hearts content and left the bones and the crumbs for the smaller animals to feed on. I pointed my finger at the England’s representative and said “England you have played only 4 Test matches in 11 years. Then pointing my finger at Australia’s I said “Australia you also have given us only 4 Test matches in 11 years.
I asked why the  I.C.C was discriminating against certain members and that it was high time that  the I.C.C treated all its members  equally. The PCB especially and the BCCI  supported me and were very vehement that all members should be treated equally
The BCCI has now done an “about turn” and  wants to join hands with England and Australia  to discriminate against the other countries. As S.H.Moulana has questioned quite rightly, “Is the ICC going to be another U.N. in the making”? It does not appear to be an accident that India wants to join hands with the powerful perpetrators of injustice like the U.S. and the U.K. at the U.N. to pass a vote against Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka Cricket must vehemently oppose the resolutions to be proposed at the ICC together  with all the other Full Member countries. I hope the SLC representatives will have enough courage to boldly speak out at the ICC meeting after obtaining the support of the other 7 Full  members and throw out these most obnoxious proposals.
Since writing the above articles, I have seen the two articles relating to this issue that appeared in the Island of 25th January by Arjuna Ranatunga who was the chief architect of winning the greatest Sports  award this country had ever received, namely the Cricket World Cup in 1996 and David Becker, the former legal head and Company Secretary of the I.C.C.  As usual the outspoken Arjuna has not minced his words   and condemned  the preposterous proposals wholesale. I have the highest respect for Arjuna as he was the one man who stood up to the antics of particularly the Australian players whose sledging had demoralized the entire Sri Lankan team before he took charge. Arjuna gave the “sledgers” more than what he got  and there was a sudden change for the better in their behavior. In short he restored the self respect of our players. I was witness to some of these incidents as the Manager of the team. It is a great pity that Arjuna cannot play any role in the Cricket arena today. If he closed his eyes to the corruption that was and is taking place in the Sports administration in this country, he would have been the Minister of Sports today. Arjuna would have been the ideal choice to represent Sri lanka at the ICC meeting scheduled to be held soon to ratify the ignominious proposals put forward by the “Big Three” but this will never happen.
David Becker says inter alia “To propose further that the “big three”are immune from relegation from the proposed top tier of  Test Cricket is contrary to internationally accepted sporting principles. – – –  The proposals drawn up by the BCCI , the ECB and CA favours a model in which they, the richest nations will receive the greater percentage of funds whereas the smaller and poorer countries will receive less “.  Are we going to witness the death knell of World Cricket. Let us wait and see.

Yours truly,
Neil Perera

Neil was a Honorary Secretary  BCCSL for quite sometime in the 1970s and 1980s and is a former Manager of Sri Lankan cricket teams. He was among those who battled ICC prejudices against the admission of Sri Lanka to Test status in the late 1970s  till the breakthrough in 1981.

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