Atherton slams India as the 'big beast of cricket'

India's decision to withdraw from the Champions Trophy from 2007 has been met with admonishment by the former England captain Michael Atherton. In his column for the Sunday Telegraph, Atherton branded India 'the big beast of cricket' while adding that other countries are 'frightened of both their bark and bite'.
"India's announcements last week as to their future playing arrangements, meekly confirmed by England, has left no one in any doubt who is now master and who is servant," Atherton wrote.

A key aim of the Champions Trophy is to provide funds for developing nations, such as Bangladesh and, last week, Malcolm Speed wrote to the BCCI to remind them of their responsibilities to the game. Meanwhile, the BCCI were briefed by the ICC about long term development plans including scheduling. An ICC spokesman, said the they did not discuss with the BCCI either the Champions Trophy or the Future Test Programme (FTP) specifically.

"The appropriate forum to discuss that will be the ICC Chief Executives Committee meeting (February 14-16) and the Executive Board meeting (March 20-21). This was about letting them [the BCCI] understand the development plans of the ICC. It was nothing more than a briefing."

Atherton added that India's behaviour toward the ICC conveyed an image of a country 'acting as superpowers tend to act: self-interest first and last and bugger the rest.'

"Last week, Malcolm Speed, the chief-executive of the ICC, found himself in a position much occupied by Kofi Annan and the United Nations in recent years: being bullied by a superpower for whom the notions of international law and collective responsibility have long ceased to have any meaning.

"He needs to stand his ground and we need to support him."