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2019 World Cup scheduling and the BCCI

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BCCI_ICC_Cricket_ODI_World_Cup_2019_scheduleA recent episode of the Netflix show “Patriot Act” featured comedian Hasan Minhaj taking potshots at the governing body of cricket in India -- the BCCI and how they control the governing body that runs international cricket -- the ICC. Another example of it that was a talking point in the cricket community was the scheduling of Indian team’s opening fixture in the ongoing cricket World Cup.

The bone of contention was that the Men in Blue played their first match in the tournament a week after the tournament began. When India took on South Africa, the Proteas had already played two games. England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan had all played two games as well by then, while New Zealand, Bangladesh and Australia had each played one.

 

So, why didn’t Virat Kohli’s men begin their World Cup campaign till so late? This was the first time, since Kapil Dev lifted World Cup at the Lords in 1983, that an Indian team didn’t get down to business till the seventh day. We’re taking 1983 into consideration as benchmark because it is only after this point that Indian cricket started becoming the power it is today.

 

Consider this – In 1987, the tournament was hosted by India and they played a game on the second day of the tournament. In 1992 in Australia they played on day one despite having played a full series there before the World Cup began. In 1996, the tournament returned to the sub-continent and saw the Mohammad Azharuddin’s team in action on day four. In 1999 the same man led the side on the second day of the tournament in England.

In South Africa in 2003, India began their campaign on the fourth day. 2007 saw them in action on the Caribbean Islands on the fifth day (the longest they had to wait to play before this year’s tournament). Back to being hosts in 2011, their’s was the first game. In the last World Cup, Down Under, the ICC had them playing on the second day.

 

Even India skipper Virat Kohli said “firstly, we are very happy that finally we are going to start playing. It's been a while since we have been here,” in the pre-match media interaction on the eve of their game against South Africa. He didn’t deny that this was to his side’s favour, “I think it is a bit of an advantage, I have to say, in terms of understanding how the games have gone, what the conditions have to offer, what the overcast conditions bring into play when the sun is out.”

 

And that’s where other teams might have an issue with the scheduling, though not many would come out and express their displeasure because of the clout the BCCI has and the effects it could have on their careers.

In an ideal world, when playing a ten-team tournament, after seven games one expects every team to have played at least one game each.

This ‘advantage’ seems to get over looking at the complete schedule, as India will be playing all their round-robin games in 31 days. England, Bangladesh and New Zealand have 33 days, Afghanistan and the West Indies have got 34 and 35 days respectively for the same. Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan get 36 days each while the men from the Rainbow nation gets 38 days. This logic also has its critics, who say that the schedule for a start of a World tournament can't be designed to suit one team.

 

There are certain reports that it was the BCCI who requested the ICC to keep India’s opening match a little late in the tournament because of the uncertainty about the scheduling of the Indian Premier League’s twelfth edition as it was the year for India’s general elections.

 

Which begs the question why should the ICC have to factor such a request at all? Trying to make sense of the whole issue, England cricketer Nick Compton tweeted “They are India and they run the cricket world I guess.”

A former BCCI official however, said that all this is because of the CoA: “We all know that there is power tussle going on in the board between us and CoA. Right now they are calling the shots and to me if they get credit for the good work they are doing, they should be the ones facing the criticisms on their failures.”

This isn’t the first time in the recent past that the BCCI has been criticised for trying to bully ICC in getting things done according to the Indian board wants. In 2018 during the ICC Under-19 World Cup all India's matches were televised and thus had full broadcast facilities, which wasn’t the case for some of the other teams in the competition.

A tweet criticizing the BCCI and ICC succinctly summarised the situation -- When India yells jump, the ICC ask how high.



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