ICC, BCCI officials will meet in New Delhi Thursday to discuss the future of the game. (Express File Photo)
The over-reliance on Indian money has been listed as a weakness in a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis done by the International Cricket Council as it plans to take the game to uncharted markets and achieve financial sustainability for all member countries. The strategy document also mentions the need to enlist the services of global influencers and cricket fans like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, and Indra Nooyi who was recently made the first female independent director of ICC. Usain Bolt, Russell Crowe and Chris Martin are the non-Indian celebrity influencers who ICC seeks to make use of.
The ICC is set to meet BCCI office-bearers and Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators in Delhi Thursday where the future of the game will be discussed. And once all member countries are on board, various programmes to promote the game and ways to engage, broaden and monetise the fans will be launched.
Eight key areas have been identified to be pursued in the next five years. Fans, participants, women and girls, technology, cricket’s products, financial sustainability, cricket’s purpose, integrity and values. However, what might hurt the sensibilities of Indian cricket administrators, if not its fans, is the fact that the strategy document sweats about the financial over-reliance on India.
In an embedded SWOT analysis, the document mentions India twice, under Weakness: “Not a truly global sport —heavy dependence on revenues and fans from India” is listed as the top weakness, and “Lack of aggressive expansion/growth strategy to counter overreliance on India”. As is the case with most sport bodies around the world, the ICC is also worried about commercial operators who are more focused on short-term gains instead of looking at a holistic promotion of the game. “Uncontrolled private investment into the sport by commercial operators whose interests are aligned with short-term financial gain rather than the long-term health and growth of the sport” is listed under threats.
In the recent past, talks about a breakaway world governing body had hit cricket and ICC had then expressed reservations about the development. The concern is featured in the Threat section of the strategy document as well. “Breakaway governing body — rebel group” and ICC seeks to tackle it with improving financial sustainability of all member countries. It also tries to convert threats into opportunities. Like cricket’s newest format T10. Last December, a T10 league was played in UAE, with cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Shakib Al Hasan, Keiron Pollard, Mohammad Amir, Tamim Iqbal — and it was quite a success.
It has triggered concerns in ICC which lists T10 as a threat in the SWOT analysis, but also seeks to use the T10 format to spread the game. “What other traditional or shorter formats of cricket (if any) should be included in world cricket’s portfolio of products and if so, how and why?” is one of the questions the ICC states. It places T10 under opportunity: “Cricket as a sport should continue to capitalise on shortened format opportunities like T10.”
The document states that the SWOT analysis was done by a Strategy Working Group that comprised Rahul Johri, BCCI CEO, David Peever (as Chair), Imran Khwaja, Dave Cameron, Clare Connor and Patricia Kambarami, in conjunction with ICC CEO Dave Richardson.