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'Appalled by pure greed of the Big Three'
Geoff Boycott talks about the ICC's potential revamp, and says the two-tier Test system will be a death knell for certain teams (19:57)
Producer: Raunak Kapoor
January 29, 2014
Bowl at Boycs
'Appalled by pure greed of the Big Three'January 29, 2014
Excerpts from the show below.
Raunak Kapoor: There's so much happening in the world of cricket, England and Australia are playing out the last bits of their tour, India are struggling in New Zealand in the ODIs, and of course there's a lot happening in the boardrooms of cricket's administrators.
So plenty to talk about and Geoffrey Boycott is with me. Let's take the first question which comes from K Prabhakar from Kuwait. Prabhakar asks: Is India a highly overrated team in Test cricket and do they truly deserve the second spot in the ICC rankings? It does seem that the system of ranking needs to be reviewed seriously for throwing up such inane anomalies. India with its current bowling attack will be a joke on most pitches outside their own backyard.
Geoff Boycott: Well, I've never rated the ICC rankings anyway. It's a human being that does it, and as humans we all have different opinions and views. The ICC rankings are good for cricket in so much as they get everybody talking about the game, like your reader from Kuwait, he's a bit irate, he thinks it's wrong that India are No. 2.
But you shouldn't take what the rankings say as being sacrosanct. Whoever's doing it behind the scenes with his computer and trying to work it out is not God you know. It's just a tool to get us all hot under the collar, but listen, we can't argue with England losing the No. 2 spot after losing 5-0.
So you shouldn't get yourself too hot on the collar with these rankings, 'cause I don't take much notice. By watching matches live or on television, I can see for myself and have my own thoughts. So you mustn't treat the rankings with that much respect.
I can't say India are better than England are at the moment. Yes, their bowling doesn't look special, but it's not new for India to be ordinary outside of India and yet to beat most people at home. But England were so bad, that our women's team could probably have given the men's game a run for their money.
RK: All right, let's take the second question. Pranay Aggarwal from India sends in this one, Geoffrey, and it's topical considering India have lost the ODI series in New Zealand. Pranay says: Geoffrey, given India's one-day form away from home in South Africa and currently in New Zealand, do you think they'll struggle to defend their World Cup in a year's time in Australia-New Zealand?
GB: Well, I always thought after that brilliant win at home, that they probably wouldn't win it in Australia. It's hard to win it. England have never won it. And it's harder still to retain it. Australia have done that but that was in a period when they had a lot of terrific players.
So that comes along once in a flood. West Indies did it as well, but it is very difficult. I think the most important thing is, have India got a plan? Because it's not that imperative as to how they play now.
If you have a plan leading up to the World Cup and you've got some preparation in mind with getting new players in and trying to give them experience, making these guys understand what their roles are in the team, getting them into tight situations and matches now, so that they can get used to such moments in a match and coaches can guide them and get them ready for the World Cup.
You still have time, it's a year to go, so there's time to play a few one-day matches, but it's important that they actually have a plan, and they are preparing for it and that the guys at the top know exactly who their best team is and they're working towards that.
|"How ridiculous and arrogant the two-tier Test system is. It reminds me of the George Orwell book Animal Farm. He said, 'Everybody is equal, but some are more equal than the others'"|
If they're just turning up to play and they think they'll be alright when the World Cup comes around next March, then they won't do very well. Remember there has been a bit of a turnover in Indian cricket.
The Tendulkars, Dravids, Laxmans are all gone, and what happened to Gautam Gambhir who played so well in the World Cup final that India won? They've got one or two talented players so you can't count India out.
But no one team stands out as a clear favourite. I think the World Cup is therefore plucked by anybody who plays well at that tournament. There are so many teams of equal ability. At this moment in time the World Cup is anybody's.
RK: Okay let's take the question of the week, and it's a major talking point in cricket at the moment as the ICC is looking at a potential overhaul in administration and Ishan Mandrekar and Saroj from the USA send this question: Geoffrey, what are your thoughts on the two-tier Test system that the ICC is currently mulling over. Also, how do you think the Big Three taking over executive control of the ICC will affect cricket in the years ahead?
GB: Well in some ways, I'm amazed and shocked, and then in another way, I'm not. It's the arrogance and the greed of those three countries in wanting to rule the world of cricket. Having a two-tier Test system will be the death knell for anybody in the second division.
Already, Test cricket is under pressure around the word. India will say it isn't because they're making zillions of money. But you look at the crowds actually going for Test matches, they're pathetic compared to the blooming cricket of the '60s, '70s when grounds in India were full for Test matches, you couldn't get a seat.
You look in South Africa, the crowds are down, West Indies and New Zealand hardly get anybody there, Pakistan couldn't get anybody there in their own country before they had to play in the UAE. People have stopped coming to Test matches.
Crowds have been decreasing for many years now. The New Zealands, the West Indies, the Sri Lankas, the Pakistans, they're important to cricket. And their crowds have been going down and down for ages.
Now England are all right, you'll say. We play to full houses and quite a lot of money, we get zillions of money. India are all right 'cause they get television money. TV money is holding the game together and the sponsorship and the perimeter advertising and so on is where the game is being held together in Test matches.
Now then, if you go to a two-tier system and the second-tier countries can't get the same amount of television money, they're not playing England and India and not getting the advertising and television money, if they lose such revenue, which is going to happen, some of these countries will eventually stop playing Test match cricket.
They won't be able to make it financially viable. It's not because they don't want to. They want to carry on, it's the bedrock of the game. If there's a second tier and the money keeps draining away, they'll say, "We can't play Test matches, it's costing us money."
It's already getting hard for some of these countries to play in front of half-empty stadiums. Most players, and I'd say administrators, want Test cricket to survive, but with spectators, get less and less. If this money starts to dry up, then they'll say what's the point in playing Tests, there's no point at all.
They'll just play more T20 and ODI cricket, make money and that'll be a win-win-win. So there'll be more of that and eventually no Test matches one day. It'll be very, very sad but it will happen.
And India, England and Australia, playing each other a lot, eventually the public will get tired of it. There will be no variety, and variety's been so important in the history of the game. That is what has held cricket together.
Different countries have had their great teams. West Indies, Australia, England, South Africa, but we all stuck together and so Test cricket has survived. And the worst arrogance of all, to make more money for these countries, is if you go to two divisions and say you want the best teams to play each other, there's no relegation for the top three.
How ridiculous and arrogant it is. It reminds me of George Orwell's book Animal Farm. He said, "Everybody is equal, but some are more equal than the others", and that's what it's going to be at this meeting.
You've got Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, who'll be totally dependent on India for television. They may vote to support India out of fear that India won't tour their countries, so denying them huge television revenue, and there will be other countries with no money as well, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, they may be frightened too that India won't tour their countries or they'll just pull out like they did with South Africa recently. If these countries are weak and side with India out of fear, then they're misguided and hastening their own death knell.
RK: What I'd also like to ask you Geoffrey is, the BCCI's arrogance has hardly surprised most people given their recent past, but as Sharda Ugra says in her piece, the ECB and CA were the only two other powerful boards who could have called the BCCI's bluff, but instead they chose to cosy up to them. Are you disappointed with the way the ECB have reacted?
GB: Absolutely. I'm not disappointed, I'm appalled. It's pure greed isn't it? Look, we can blame India, they're so powerful and 80% of cricket's revenue comes from India, I understand the economics, but surely India's got to be bigger than that.
With power comes responsibility. They've been so powerful now for a number of years, but you've got to have responsibility. It's like rulers of countries, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers - there has got to be responsibility towards the game, not just to making more money for themselves, surely.
And let me tell you, they might be quite happy now with the television money, but you keep playing the same teams and people will get fed up. That was the beauty of having certainly eight good sides, with history and tradition and you've got a variety of seeing them play.
It's short-term thinking for lots of money and greed and it's appalling and that too from England - England, the home of cricket. I'll tell you what, the ICC is run by the ten chairmen of the ten major countries with great self-interest. If the MCC were running the game, as they used to do, this would not have happened. They would have looked at the game being bigger than any individual country.
I can't believe that India will put this forward and also that England, above all, would vote for it.
RK: Well it's been put forward jointly by the three gentlemen from the three boards, Wally Edwards, Giles Clarke and N. Srinivasan. Add to that the BCCI have also suggested that India's participation at ICC events is subject to this proposal being accepted by the ICC.
GB: Well that's pressure isn't it? If you don't agree to what we want, we'll pull out altogether and then all your World Cups will be worthless 'cause 80% of the money comes from Indian television and broadcasters, sponsors etc. And it's blackmail, that, isn't it?
Look at me, I've commentated in India so many times, I love the people, they've been brilliant and they love their cricket, they're passionate. And I know they're very nationalistic, but every Indian person, man or woman, can't possibly believe this is right.
You know what the best thing to happen would be, for the television broadcasters, who I know are also frightened of the BCCI, but for the public of India and the fantastic, smart, clever journalists and broadcasters on TV and radio to say, "This is not right, we're Indian, we're proud to be Indian, we're proud of our national side, we want us to be good in the game, but this is not good for cricket."
The media in India needs to come out and say: this is not good for cricket, this is not right, this is power gone mad. And I don't just say India, I blame England and Australia, all three of them are in it. There's nothing good in this whatsoever. They should be ashamed and embarrassed to have actually put this forward, but they're not, and that tells you everything about them doesn't it.
RK: Yes, well I think it's fair to say that all this is a representation of the views of the three boards and their chairmen and not the good folk that follow the game of cricket in these countries. Of course, ESPNcrcinfo will continuously follow this story as it develops. Thank you very much Geoffrey Boycott for your thoughts. Do send in your questions via our feedback form We'll be back in two weeks, until then, goodbye.
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