CRICKET South Africa has been royally shafted by its counterparts at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and there is absolutely nothing they can sensibly, meaningfully or profitably do about it.
When it was suggested on this very page four months ago that India might cut short its end-of-year tour to South Africa as retribution in the event that Cricket South Africa (CSA) appointed Haroon Lorgat as its CE, there was widespread — and understandable — scepticism.
Surely, mused many, there cannot be such vindictive spite at the highest level of international administration.
But it gets worse. Not only does it exist, it is burnished with an arrogance and disregard for the consequences so powerful that the only possible course of action for CSA administrators is acquiescence, diplomatic silence and, if necessary, a little begging.
Instructions on how best to behave in this manner are available from the global administrators, the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The BCCI may be full of officials consumed by their sense of power and importance, but they are not fools. Far from it.
When CSA sent its proposed schedule for the November-January tour, it contained seven one-dayers, three Test matches and a couple of Twenty20s. The schedule was amended many times to suit the tourists’ requirements, which would suggest communication between the boards.
Yet when CSA finally released the fixtures, the BCCI claimed they had not been consulted on the completed schedule, never mind approving it. Not even the dysfunctional Cricket South Africa of two years ago would have managed a cock-up of those proportions.
On Sunday, the BCCI announced that the West Indies would be playing two Test matches in their country in November when they were supposed to be trailing around our country playing all those one-dayers and Twenty20s.
Some might say we should be grateful for that. The problem is, they are worth somewhere between R25m and R30m each to CSA and they need to fill the piggy banks for when Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand tour and nobody is really interested.
The BCCI also confirmed that the team would be heading to New Zealand in the middle of January, which will make it difficult to play the third Test scheduled for the Wanderers.
When the time which the BCCI says is available for the tour is broken into constituent parts for the three formats, it seems unlikely that any more than two Test matches, three one-day matches and a brace of Twenty20s can be fitted in, which is India’s obligation under the ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP).
The rearranged schedule will cost Cricket South Africa in the region of R150m. Never mind the angst of cricket lovers in East London, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein who will now almost certainly miss out.
The BCCI say that an Indian summer without any home internationals will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars and that Sachin Tendulkar deserves to play his 200th Test match in front of a home crowd in Kolkata or Mumbai rather than at Newlands. Both are valid points. And both could have been made six months ago.
If Lorgat raises his head above the parapet and CSA lodges an appeal or complaint, they run the risk that the BCCI will institutionalise the “bare minimum” policy on both incoming and outgoing tours by the Proteas. The only other nations with enough pulling power and financial clout to support a South African appeal, England and Australia, enjoy a relationship with the BCCI so close it requires parental guidance for younger viewers.
So, welcome India. Thank you for agreeing to come. We would have enjoyed a few more games, especially a third Test.
And sorry about the Lorgat thing. It’s just that, well, he’s good. And we haven’t had a great run with administrators in recent years. Hopefully we can put all this behind us and get back to the days when we bent over backwards to accommodate each other. Or, at least, we did for you.