How do you Like Them Crab Apples? CSA’s Catch-22 With the BCCI

From the moment in July that CSA dared to defy the protests and solicitations of the BCCI by appointing the former CEO of the ICC, Haroon Lorgat, to their vacant CEO post you sensed this moment would come, an artfully executed act of revenge against a Board that refused to kowtow to their unreasonable interference, and a man who had famously clashed with them on several issues including the Future Tours Programme, DRS, and the Wolfe Report into governance.

In July CSA announced a tour by India comprising of 2 T20 internationals, 7 one-day internationals and 3 Tests commencing on 21 November and finishing on 19 January, providing a financial bonanza for CSA and a much anticipated contest for their fans.

Sadly this mouth-watering contest appears set to be greatly curtailed with media reports emerging from the recent BCCI Working Committee suggesting that the BCCI will now present CSA with a much slimmer proposed itinerary of 2 Tests, 3 one-day internationals and just 2 Tests in a move that will cost CSA approximately $14.7m USD according to respected South African commentator Neil Manthorp.

Cricinfo reported an (always) unnamed BCCI official as saying:

“Our priority is to look after the interests of our players and the Board … And such a long tour wasn’t viable from either perspective. We need to space out tours so that cricketers get much needed breaks between them”.

Seemingly nothing wrong with that right? Well, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words and it is in their actions that the BCCI reveals its malevolent thirst for revenge.

Following their recent meeting the BCCI Working Committee confirmed a tour of New Zealand starting on 19 January comprising 5 one-day internationals and 2 Tests, while also offering a new and unexpected invitation to the West Indies to tour in November for what has now been confirmed as a series of 3 one-day internationals and 2 Tests, a tour that can only commence after the ODI series against Australia concludes on 2 November.

So I ask you dear reader, are such actions consistent with the comments of the unnamed BCCI official noted above in ensuring adequate rest periods for the players or is it more consistent with the actions of a group of individuals wishing to financially damage the interests of CSA and perhaps embarrass its newly appointed CEO?

Artfully the BCCI, who have stated that they had never agreed to the itinerary announced by CSA, find themselves in a position where they are unfortunately forced to offer an inferior counter-proposal to ensure that the tour goes ahead at all.

It is an act of bastardry artful in its elegance and execution, strangely reminiscent of a scene from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 where Orr tells Yossarian:

“I did it to protect my good reputation in case anyone ever caught me walking around with crab apples in my cheeks. With rubber balls in my hand I could deny there were crab apples in my cheeks. Every time someone asked me why I was walking around with crab apples in my cheeks, I’d just open my hands and show them it was rubber balls I was walking around with not crab apples, and that they were in my hands, not my cheeks.”

Well how do you like them crab apples Hoorat?

After all, as Heller goes on to note his fabulous critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning:

“Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing”.

And the sad fact of the matter is that CSA can, and will, do very little in response to such a terrible and pernicious slight and the significant financial impact it will have on them as they are caught in a real life catch-22.

Perhaps they could refuse permission for their players to participate in the IPL, however the importance of this income to their players, plus the fact that they receive 10% of the player’s salaries as a participation bounty, makes it unlikely they would adopt such an act of principle.

Equally, it is almost unimaginable that, as some have postulated, they would withdraw their teams from participating in the Champions League tournament. After all CSA presently own 20% of the enterprise which, as reported in India Today, netted them $2.3m USD in profits in 2011 along with a share (together with CA) of $7.4m USD in participation fees.

Both areas provide significant and recurring income to CSA and perhaps, as a not so subtle reminder of this fact, reports are now strategically filtering through from those unnamed BCCI sources of rumours that the BCCI are considering terminating CSA’s ownership stake in the Champions League.

So how do you like them crab apples Hoorat?

Choose to withdraw permission for your teams and players to participate in the IPL and Champions League and you lose even more financially both over the short and longer term, or cancel the tour as a matter of principle and turn a financial disappointment into a disaster, with all possible suitable replacements already committed during this period.

It truly is a real life catch-22 isn’t it? Perhaps as Heller notes in his novel:

“…’it’s better to die on ones feet than live on one’s knees’, Nately retorted with triumphant and lofty conviction. ‘I guess you’ve heard that saying before’. ‘Yes, I certainly have’ mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. ‘But I’m afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one’s feet than die on one’s knees. That is the way the saying goes’. ‘Are you sure?’ Nately asked with sober confusion. ‘It seems to make more sense my way’. ‘No, it makes more sense my way. Ask your friends.’

And so we ask the ICC and full-member Boards that very question – just don’t hold your breath waiting for a response.

After all, as Chaplain Tappmann came to realise:

“… in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalisation, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honour, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character”.

Until next time, that is stumps.

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