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September 9, 2013

Who holds the power in cricket?

Freddie Wilde

N Srinivasan at a press conference in Kolkata, Kolkata, May 26, 2013
The BCCI's clout is dependent on the fact that their team represents the world's largest cricket-following population © Hindustan Times

"In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. 'Do it' says the king, 'for I am your lawful ruler.' 'Do it' says the priest, 'for I command you in the names of the gods.' 'Do it' says the rich man, 'and all this gold shall be yours.' So tell me - who lives and who dies?" Bowing deeply, the eunuch hurried from the common room on soft slippered feet.

When he was gone, Chella gave a snort and Shae wrinkled up her pretty face. "The rich man lives. Doesn't he?" Tyrion sipped at his wine, thoughtful. "Perhaps. Or not. That would depend on the sellsword, it seems."

George R R Martin, A Clash of Kings (Tyrion I) -

"… would depend on the sellsword …"

Indeed, the men in positions of perceived influence can play with power for days, weeks, months and years on end, but ultimately their power is, as Varys later says, but "a shadow on the wall". The real power lies with the sellsword. The sellsword could kill the king, the priest and the rich man if he wanted to. The three men of influence are at the mercy of the whims of one man.

The powerless man with all the power.

In cricket the fans are the sellsword. Away from the air-conditioned board rooms, video conference calls and summit meetings the fans ultimately control the sport.

Cricket fans could make a mockery of the power games of cricket administrators by simply not watching matches on TV and render the whole elaborate game futile. They could never buy a ticket for a match again. Never follow a score ever again. Of course such a situation would be impossible to instigate; the masses cannot be controlled thus. But the concept remains relevant.

Ultimately, fans are cricket's life source, without them the money in cricket vanishes. The BCCI is the most powerful board in cricket because they represent the world's largest cricket-following population.

But the allegiance of fans is not to administrators or to boards - it is to cricket.

Administrators can play with their power, fiddle with their influence and endlessly pursue money, but they can only do so safely up until the point at which they damage the relationship between the fan and cricket. If that relationship is damaged, cricket hurts. If that relationship is broken, cricket is broken. And then the administrators have no cow to milk.

With increasing frequency, as more money has entered the sport, and the stakes have risen ever higher, cricket's bond with its fans is being damaged by the reckless actions of administrators seeking more power, more influence and more control. The IPL corruption scandal this year was perhaps the worst of them all. Deep-rooted, stinking, heinous corruption in a league that paints itself as the pioneer in the modernization of the game. Never before have fans been abused so blatantly.

Following modern day world cricket you'd be forgiven for thinking that the administrators could do without the fans. Which is of course, totally wrong.

Despite what you may think, fans hold the power in cricket.

Forget that at your peril cricket administrators. Forget that at your peril...

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Freddie Wilde is a teenage blogger based in Hampshire who first played cricket at the age of seven. He tweets here.

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Posted by Dummy4 on (September 13, 2013, 0:58 GMT)

Fascinating article and great use of A Song of Ice and Fire. Hopefully cricket administrations wake up to themselves soon and stop taking the fans for granted.

Posted by Cricinfouser on (September 10, 2013, 16:45 GMT)

A timely reminder that all the revenue streams so beloved of the administrators - broadcasting rights, sponsorship, advertising and the like - are ultimately generated by spectators and TV viewers. Commenting on the recent rift between CSA and the BCCI, one buffoon stated that CSA should respect the BCCI as a business would dance to the tune of its biggest customer. Responses pointing out the reality weren't published. Too often Cricinfo tolerates the propagation of such nonsense. Your article is a welcome exception.

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