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Ugra: Indian cricket fortunate to have CoA’s neutral view

The Champions Trophy will feature its defending champions, after the BCCI unanimously decided on Sunday that India will play in England. The squad for the tournament, which India won in 2013 also in England, will be named on Monday, May 8.

The board’s announcement, after a Special General Meeting (SGM) in Delhi ended the uncertainty over whether it would go ahead with the one threat that has often skulked unsaid around the game – that of India pulling out of a major ICC event. In this instance, the Indian board was unhappy with the outcomes of the ICC Board meetings in April, where the ICC had approved a new constitution, new governance structure, and a new finance model, with the other Full Members outvoting the BCCI.

The Indian board was the only Full Member to vote against the new financial model – in which the BCCI’s share of ICC revenues was heavily reduced – and was one of two Full Members to vote against the new governance changes. The BCCI said it would continue to negotiate with the ICC over these issues.

“The Board unanimously authorised the acting Hony. Secretary of the BCCI [Amitabh Choudhary] to continue negotiations with the ICC in the best interest of the BCCI while keeping its legal options open,” the board’s statement said. “The BCCI SGM unanimously decided that the Indian cricket team will participate in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy.”

The outcome of Sunday’s SGM was likely to have been influenced by discussions the Committee of Administrators (CoA), which is supervising the BCCI on the direction of the Supreme Court, had with the state cricket associations on Saturday.

“I told them, whenever you take an action think three steps ahead,” CoA chairman Vinod Rai told ESPNcricinfo. “What if the ICC had not bothered about the BCCI notice, what would you have done? Withdraw your team? You think the nation would permit you to withdraw your team?

“I told them India would be in danger of not playing any international cricket for eight years.”

India had won the previous edition of the Champions Trophy, in June 2013 © AFP

The discussions with the CoA culminated in the BCCI opting for a less confrontational and more conciliatory approach towards its negotiations with the ICC. “We decided to do this without creating any prejudice to their legal rights,” Abhay Apte, a part of the BCCI’s legal cell and the president of the Maharashtra Cricket Association, said. “Ultimately you also need to have a relationship with other boards. We did not want to have this impression that we ae stopping cricket or we are against cricket. Anyway that was not on the cards.”

Apte said the issues were discussed elaborately at the SGM but nothing was put to vote. “Pull-out would happen if the notice is given [to the ICC]. The notice gives 30-day curing time. If the curing time does not happen during the Champions Trophy then you are playing.”

The notice Apte was referring to was one that a segment of the BCCI wanted to send to the ICC, containing a warning about revoking the Members Participation Agreement (MPA). Revoking the MPA would mean that India would not play – or host – any ICC tournaments until 2023.

ESPNcricinfo learned that former BCCI president N Srinivasan, who joined the SGM via a video call, was in favour of sending the notice, though he was against India pulling out of the Champions Trophy. BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry was also reportedly in favour of the notice being sent.

However, Niranjan Shah of the Saurashtra Cricket Association, Rajeev Shukla of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association, and Apte were opposed to the move. They said the BCCI could not negotiate after sending the notice. One of the members at the SGM said Srinivasan said the BCCI was not using its clout at the ICC. However, Amitabh Choudhary, who was in Dubai last month, said he felt the BCCI did not enjoy the same clout it once did.

In the days leading up to the SGM, there was a conference call between some state associations where an attempt was made to authorise Choudhary to send the notice to the ICC. The CoA, however, stepped in and said that such a decision could only be taken at the SGM, and it had to have unanimous support. Not all state associations were in favour of such a drastic measure though.

The prime reason for the BCCI’s unhappiness is the ICC’s new financial model, according to which the Indian board receives only $293 million from the ICC’s revenues. The ICC chairman Shashank Manohar put an additional $100 million on the negotiating table – an offer that still stands – but Choudhury refused it. The BCCI wants $570 million, the share it was getting under the previous Big Three model.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.