BCCI running the show in world cricket - Barry Richards
Asked if ICC should do something to sort out the problems, Richards said "no, not ICC but BCCI because I feel it is BCCI who is running the show in world cricket. It is [BCCI] from where all the money comes from. Cricket is now played for money. Only few at the top posts in ICC or BCCI have been involved with high level of cricket. Perhaps they have certain other things like power and recognition in their minds rather than cricket. They have to compromise on many issues because of several factors."
About the advent of new technology and umpires being questioned about their decisions, Richards said it was all due to commercialism. "The money and commercialism is behind all this. The erosion in the authority and respect of umpires too is because of the high stakes involved. The demands for removing particular umpires from series or tournaments are not justified. In my opinion umpires are supreme. But it is ICC who selects them."
Richards also expressed his unhappiness over selection policies in South Africa. "The young players are disheartened when they come to know that there will be other factors at the time of selection. They start thinking of quitting cricket or move elsewhere. Kevin Pietersen is the biggest example of this apart from many others."
Richards said the time was not far when bowlers would become an extinct species because of money-driven policies of the cricket administrators. "Batting and fielding is on the rise but I am worried for the bowlers. The game has become too much batsmen-oriented. The fast outfields, field restrictions and flat tracks are all in favour of batsmen. See even in India millions would like to emulate Sachin [Tendulkar] but no one would like to become like [Javagal] Srinath.
"One-day cricket and flat tracks are killing the art of bowling. I wonder whether in future there will be any bowlers at all," said Richards, who is in India as a TV commentator for the Champions Trophy. "Something must be done to help the bowling otherwise who is going to bowl at all. Most of the legendry bowlers of present times like Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock or Shoaib Akhtar are in their 30s.
"Where is the new crop of bowlers. Likewise India too does not have bowlers like [Erapalli] Prasanna, [Bishen Singh] Bedi and Chandrasekhar. The flat tracks are killing the art of spin."
He rated Australia and Sri Lanka as the strongest contenders in the Champions Trophy and felt the absence of a good bowling attack would cost India.
"Australians are far superior. Among the rest, Sri Lankans have the best chance. If Dilhara Fernando bowls well they will excel. As far as the Indians are concerned, they don't have the kind of bowling attack which can trouble opponents. Only Harbhajan Singh is effective. I feel [Anil] Kumble should have been there in the Indian team. Irfan Pathan too is good but he is not in rhythm."