Opinion: When the victim becomes the victor

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The BCCI isn't the only bully in the world of cricket, but it the biggest, and the least subtle. They run cricket now, and it is important to them that everyone knows it, writes Peter Miller.

The colonial past of Great Britain is not a pretty one. It treated the world as if it owned all that it surveyed. The activities of our nation around the world in the name of western civilisation should make any right-minded Brit cringe.

The British in effect owned India, its people and its resources for close to 100 years. The rule of the British came to an end in 1947, since that time India has grown in power and influence.

One of the things that the British Empire spread, apart from discontent and injustice, was the game of cricket. India became a Test-playing nation in 1932, and were granted membership of the Imperial Cricket Council.

As the name suggests, this organisation was dominated by the rulers of the Empire, the British. This was a far from satisfactory situation, and one that those who are writing about cricket today would have had to take a stance on if they were producing material at the time. In hindsight it is easy to say that this was wrong, and I would hope I would have had that opinion at the time.

The only constant in life is change. The British, and Australians', control over the world of cricket could not last forever. The economic realities of the 21st century have led to a massive shift in cricketing power politics. India is the second-fastest growing economy in the world and it still has almost limitless potential for continued growth. A cricket mad population has always existed, but those in the country that have the disposable income to spend on the consumption of cricket has expanded hugely and will only grow further.

This captive audience with the money to spend on television subscriptions has meant that the money-making power of cricket in India is now mind-bogglingly huge. The BCCI would make less cash if they had a printing press to produce their own bank notes. When India come to visit you can make enough money from selling the TV rights to keep a cricket board going for months, perhaps even years.

Cricket is divided into the haves, the have-nots, and the have-even-lesses. India have the most, but England and Australia have enough of a home audience that they are financially independent of other boards. All three countries have massive TV rights deals that mean that they will survive regardless of the actions of others.

The other full member boards make money from the tours of those three teams. The TV revenue generated at home is not enough to sustain them. That gives India, England and Australia all the cards and the ability to have a peak at everyone else's hand before they make their play.

That brings us back to the BCCI. It isn't the only bully in the world of cricket, but it the biggest, and the least subtle. When the BCCI flexes its muscle everyone knows that is what they are doing, and it appears they have become obsessed with doing so. They run cricket now, and it is important to them that everyone knows it.

There is an excuse that is used by apologists for this behaviour. It amounts to saying it is India's turn to be the bully. It has been treated badly, now it is the chance for it to have payback. They will tell you that when India was mistreated there was no outcry, so why is there one now. Why is the mainstream media covering this and they did not when it was India on the receiving end of shoddy treatment.

The fact is that there was coverage of India having a rough deal. It may not have been in the mainstream press, but cricket administration disputes still don't make front-page news other than in the most extreme circumstances. The machinations of the cricketing illumnati is not the stuff that shifts newspapers. The real difference is that we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. <i>ESPNcricinfo</i> have unrivalled coverage of cricket administration, but they have the space, expertise and the staff to do so. Newspapers and news websites do not.

Information is easier than ever to access, this does not mean that there was not coverage of the misdeeds of administrators in the past. If there was less coverage in the past, this is wrong. It should have got more coverage. That does not mean that those who write about the game should refrain from discussing the issues of today.

To say that India has not been treated badly would be a disgrace. The Imperial past and the evil that it spread is an embarrassment. That does not make the way India are behaving right. Power comes with responsibility, something that cricket administrators are want to ignore.

The way that the BCCI carries out its business is all about power. Dictating the personnel of other boards, handing out tours in return for favours, making decisions based on what best suits them. When the English cricket authorities did this it was a disgrace, now India are doing it is no different.

They bend the facts to best suit their argument and accept cricket fans to except their nonsensical slant on things. Because you don't believe bullying is right now doesn't mean you accept the bullying of the past. The BCCI is no longer the victim, they are the victors and as a result they should be held to account as such.

<b>Peter Miller</b>

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