New Delhi: The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy will receive a grand farewell after all with the perceived threat of a pull-out by the game's most powerful cricket board, and in effect the 50-over world champions, having dissipated. Hard-pressed for promotion in what is its final run, the ICC Champions Trophy will have a stately exit with all decks cleared for India to take up the challenge of adding another limited-overs crown to their trophy cabinet.
With just three weeks to go before the marquee tournament kicks off with an India-South Africa game at Cardiff, CNN-IBN has learnt that the prospect of hosting a major tournament of this nature, without the Indian team has set fear in the men who run the game globally. With the BCCI distinctly unhappy with prolonged media scrutiny into Laxman Sivaramakrishnan's recent appointment as a players' representative on the ICC cricket, CNN-IBN has learnt that the possibility of an Ethics Officer probe being ordered by the ICC is next to none.
Highly placed sources close to the development told CNN-IBN that the BCCI engaged in extensive discussions with the game's governing body over the weekend, as they sought to douse the fire created by Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) CEO Tim May, who accused the voting procedure to have been tampered with and also alleged that captains were influenced by their respective boards while voting.
The ICC, in an official release on May 9 had admitted receiving a "written request from FICA to refer the matter to the Ethics Officer", and further stated the request was being considered. But the possibility of such a move seems to have been nixed by the prospect of a Champions Trophy without the Indian cricket team. It is difficult to assuage how the game's governing body would have probably countered such a bargaining tool as that of 'participation in Champions Trophy', but to silently accede to the BCCI.
The ICC, in the aforementioned press release had also clarified that the "the re-vote took place according to the determined procedure and that the ICC has seen no evidence that supports allegations now being made that captains were put under pressure by their Member Boards to vote for a particular individual." However, the widely-acclaimed Neil Manthorp, in his weekly column, has questioned the merits of the ICC statement, with respect to the evidence, and the re-voting procedure that seems to have been given the clean chit by the ICC.
Sources have also told CNN-IBN that not everyone on the executive board of the ICC is happy with the move to quash any probe into the elections. Though the ICC clarified that re-voting took place constitutionally, there are growing murmurs within the ICC itself that the matter could have been taken to the executive board for a final decision, rather than a re-vote.
May, in an earlier interview to CNN-IBN, had stated that "we aren't presenting the evidence if there isn't any investigation, simple as that. We just need to sit back and wait for the ICC to tell whether investigate or not. Given all the allegations, I find it difficult to know how the ICC would reject an investigation but, again, I am not the ICC, am I?"
While it is difficult to predict whether the executive board members would still clamour for a probe into the matter, the least that could be expected now is a swift and comprehensible clarification from all concerned parties. In certain quarters across the international media, the BCCI is being savagely targeted as the one responsible for the entire mess. It is however surprising to note the lack of initiative in the same spectrum of reportage to ask questions of the respective boards and cricketers who seemingly were influenced for the vote.
It is difficult to expect an international captain to get away claiming he acted responsibly, keeping in mind the future of his nation's players, as reported widely. The same voices who confide through 'confidential' messages about the fright induced by the BCCI, present a happy bunch, relishing the IPL's carnival-experience. Will the powers-that-be among other cricket boards, have the spine to take on the alleged 'bullying' of the BCCI? After all, it takes a lot for grown-up, responsible men, to cry foul of the alleged practices that seem to be engineered by the Indian cricket board, as seen over the recent past.
It's difficult to assess whether the BCCI, in all its financial might now, is to be considered an empire or an organization, but even in the pink of financial health it knows it cannot play cricket (including the IPL) with its own players. It's here that other boards and dissenting voices are presented an opportunity to stake out their concerns and ensure good governance, instead of whispering to selected media about the ills within the game. Otherwise, it remains as yet another case of cognitive dissonance.