The former English skipper, who resigned from English captaincy to join the Kerry Packer's rebel World Series Cricket and act on their behalf promoting and recruiting players from International cricket spoke about how the BCCI was not looking out for the best interest of the game. The man who later rallied against the BCCI and the ICC by joining the now defunct Indian Cricket League launched a barbed attack on the BCCI and the IPL. After listening to the speech I was disgusted and couldn't help but see all the irony in Tony Greig talking of such things, considering that he never did any that he spoke of and often rallied himself with the opposing camp when it came to the 'best interest' of cricket. Maybe the speech would have been more appropriate had a clown wearing a suit delivered it. Greig's murky past with the 'spirit of cricket' just makes his entire spirit of cricket lecture a joke.
Below are some excerpts from his speech and my comments on them. You can find the entire transcript here. Before I continue, I must establish that I have nothing against Tony Greig and actually admire him. Some of the things he raised in his speech such as sledging are proper and I agree with the man, but then there are some things which I don't.
"Unfortunately, India is pre-occupied with money and T20 cricket and sees its IPL and Champions League as more important than a proper international calendar. To compound the problems, India has not only sold part of the game to private interests but some of her administrators are seen to have a conflict of interest, which makes it more difficult for it to act in the spirit of the game."There certainly is some truth in what Mr. Greig says but for most part the Indian cricket board has done quite well in managing the game compared to other boards. The BCCI has been the biggest revenue maker among the boards and it has taken some very encouraging steps in the last couple of years in improving the conditions of cricket not only in India alone but also in the international scene. Of course the BCCI has pushed for a calender slot for the IPL and CLT20 in order to improve the tournament's ratings, which maybe selfish but the ICC has shot down providing a window for the IPL calling it a domestic tournament (which it is exactly) and BCCI has agreed to that decision. The CLT20 on the other hand is more of an international domestic tournament with teams from all over the world so it is necessary for a window and there is nothing wrong there. As for the clash of interest, one might point that N. Srinivasan is both the BCCI President and an IPL team owner. Of course that is a clash of interest, and is a point of worry. While I said the BCCI has done some good things in the recent past, I never said it was a saint and there are still things to be looked at - one such thing would be this certain clash of interest.
"We can huff and puff as much as we like and have all sorts of external reports, but this situation can only be resolved by India accepting that the spirit of cricket is more important than generating billions of dollars; it's more important than turning out multi-millionaire players; and it's more important than getting square with Australia and England for their bully-boy tactics towards India over the years. It's ironic that the world, including India, rightly worships at the Nelson Mandela altar because of his conciliatory attitude but then India eschews his approach by indulging in a little pay back."The BCCI has used its power both politically and financially in trying to get its way with the ICC and some of the other boards, and at times may have put the interests of international cricket in the back seat, but one must remember that the BCCI's responsibility is not international cricket but cricket in India. In lobbying for an extra T20, ODI match or trying to obtain an international window for the IPL, the BCCI has pursued the interests of Indian cricket which is exactly what it exists for. Sure, some of the tactics and actions are questionable, but is it revenge for how once the Indian board was treated by their English and Australian counterparts? Its ludicrous and frankly childish to even assume that.
"It can't be good for the game when the media devotes so many words and so much ink to bad decisions, which ultimately undermines the integrity of some results. The DRS is not perfect, but it does err in favour of the umpires' decisions and according to the ICC, fewer mistakes are made with its use. And furthermore, there is less conflict on the ground. India has two reasons for opposing it: One, because its superstars had such an embarrassing experience with it in the early days. Two, the BCCI argues that the DRS is too inexact. Ironically, the spirit of cricket is batting on both sides in this one. The cavalier approach says DRS is not in the spirit of cricket, but on the other hand, the Indian superstars should act in the spirit of cricket and accept the majority viewpoint."The DRS debate is a long debate and an entirely different story. BCCI have shot it down at the recent ICC board meet yet again. The BCCI has been against the review system ever since that fateful Sri Lankan tour, Greig mentioned. While the world remains divided on the issue, I personally believe that the DRS is something good for the game and something that is for the future. However at the same time, one cannot blame the BCCI for not agreeing to the popular consensus. The BCCI believes the DRS not to be in the best interest of Indian cricket and that is what matters in the end right? So the board standing by its players is a positive sign, is it not?
"Mahatma Gandhi said: "A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. As cricket certainly resides in the hearts and souls of Indian people I am optimistic India will lead cricket by acting in the best interests of all countries rather than just for India."While it remains the BCCI's responsibility to pursue Indian cricket's interests, they cannot turn away from their other responsibility of acting in the best interest of the game. Especially as the undisputed leader in cricket now with more than 60% of the revenue generated by this one board alone, it has more than just a strong sense of moral obligation to act in the spirit of the game. However while going after these two interests there is bound to be a clash of interest somewhere and one will eventually take precedence over the other. If the BCCI puts international cricket over Indian cricket, then they are in a way not fulfilling their duties towards Indian cricket while at the same time if they put Indian cricket over International cricket, they are being inconsiderate to the plight of the game. It is a difficult position to be in but a balance must be struck and a system where a compromise of the two interest is developed. Only then will the BCCI be a true leader of the game unlike its two predecessors, the English and Australian cricket boards. Whatever stance BCCI takes, there will always be criticism and there is no one way that will please all parties, but a way that puts the best interests of cricket must be found.
So in conclusion, all I'd like to say that while Mr. Tony Greig has every right to express his views however ironical they might be, he just might be better off with a microphone in his hand, watching a cricket match.