Narrow Boat to future

What a fascinating few weeks. The ICC has taken a stand against the BCCI by declaring that the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) will now be standard in all international series and the BCCI’s attempted hijacking of the ICC Presidency was thwarted by South Africa who supplied the vital vote needed to ensure the retention of democracy. Wow.

What a lot to celebrate. Seriously.

Without wishing to sound too immediately sceptical, it is hard to avoid the caveat insisted upon by the Indians – that ball-tracking technology should be excluded from the UDRS. That, I’m sure, has everything to do with the Indian players’ determination to keep the game as traditional as possible and adhere to its core principles established over a couple of centuries.

And nothing at all to do with the fact that the BCCI has no financial stake in lucrative companies like Hawkeye and therefore stands to make add nothing to its already heaving cash mountain.

But good for the ICC in taking as strong a stand as it dared. Good for them. While its chief constituent members nervously waive their ‘yes’ cards at most opportunities, Australia being the most sycophantic of all, at least the governing body has tried to be a governing body rather than a well-dressed group of waiters for the visiting big-wigs from the Test playing nations. And their solitary colleague from the Associates Member nations.

The BCCI would have already taken over the long-term presidency of the ICC if South Africa’s vote had gone the way of the majority in scrapping the regional, rotational policy which has worked with reasonable success for the last couple of decades and, whether cricket supporters understand or even care for the workings of the international game’s politics, they should have reason to feel proud. Very proud. South Africa has done well financially in recent years (even better if our administrators weren’t paying themselves huge, unauthorised bonuses) but they still have the courage to stand up to the marauding owners of Indian cricket.

It may take a year or so, but soon enough there will come a time when CSA will have to back down and give way to India. Just see often the Champions League is NOT scheduled for this country in future years. And how quickly it is when CSA bow down to the BCCI.

Another remarkable development in recent days is the news that ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, is contemplating a visit to Zimbabwe in August to support that country’s return to Test cricket after a five-year hiatus when Bangladesh tour – followed quickly by Pakistan and New Zealand.

Given the morally questionable outrage of nations like England and Australia about Zimbabwe’s right to host any international cricket, let alone the ‘hallowed’ Test match, it is once again admirable that Lorgat should be considering putting his body where his mouth is.

The esteemed and highly opinionated writer Peter Roebuck recently penned (yet another) strongly worded article about the wrongs of playing cricket in countries which had questionable human rights records and unquestionably grotesque governments and regimes. Sri Lanka has recently joined his long-time target, Zimbabwe.

Roebuck has done brilliant work over the years. He has changed the course of many lives, alleviated the suffering of a few and, hopefully, avoided that of a few more. His motives are impeccable and must be applauded. His sincerity is unquestioned, and bloody well rightly.

But where would he have got his platform to speak on behalf of the abused and the tortured without cricket?

The people who play cricket and keep it alive, in the most awful circumstances, are the ones who give Roebuck the ability to write. And thereby hope to improve anything in the countries of the oppressed.

This column was written on a ‘narrow boat’. I am on vacation in the UK. Narrow boats are, indeed, very narrow. Which is useful because, so are the canals. Maximum speed – 4 MPH.  Whoah….!

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