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A case of the rich getting richer

Box office: India celebrate the dismissal of Australia opener David Warner for 43 on the opening day of the World Test Championship final at the Kia Oval yesterday (Photograph by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

There has been a lot of talk in world cricket about the proposed revenue-distribution model that would leave India with an even greater piece of the pie. The giants from the sub-continent are already far and away at the top of the global financial heap, pulling away from legacy leaders England and Australia in the process of doing so. But is this good for our game, and what does it mean for the small fry among the 96 Associate Members, including Bermuda?

A similar attempt by the Big Three to separate from the rest was rebuffed nine years ago, but here we are again, and it looks like India may pull it off if there is no resistance at the ICC Board meeting in Durban, South Africa, this month.

Out of the overall package, Associate Members are expected to have 11 per cent, or $67 million, split between them. Meanwhile, India alone would get 38.50 per cent ($231 million), with England getting 6.89 per cent ($41.33 million) and Australia 6.25 per cent ($37.53).

We are meant to be trying to grow the game worldwide, but the gap between the haves and the have-nots appears to be growing unsustainably on this evidence. The Associate Members who complained are right to do so.

I get it that so much about the international game revolves around India, and you cannot deny that whenever there is a Test series against India, it’s always a big series. Viewership figures are off the charts. And the Indian Premier League is by far the top T20 league in the world and there is tremendous revenue generated within it, including outrageous TV rights packages. Whenever India play, the views go up around the world. It’s no real surprise that they get the largest part of the pot, but the surprise will be how much they get compared with other nations.

The World Test Championship final between Australia and India started yesterday with the winners guaranteed $1.6 million and the runners-up $800,00. But New Zealand won it last year, while England won the 50 overs World Cup in 2019 and then the T20 World Cup last year, so it’s not as if in terms of the actual cricket that India are absolutely dominating. Yes, they’re always busy, and they’re about finals — this one at the Kia Oval being back-to-back finals in what is called “The Ultimate Test”. But, I think the nations will say, “Well, hang on a minute, look at where we are in terms of actually winning trophies?”

The Associate nations, too. You look around the world and now a lot of Associates players are playing franchise cricket — we saw Rahmanullah Gurbaz, of Afghanistan, batting in the top order for Kolkata Knight Riders for the whole IPL tournament. There’s a lot of talent. And Ireland have shown that. Obviously, they are a Test-playing nation these days, but they’ve shown what can be accomplished now that they’re playing more cricket.

• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith

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Published June 08, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated June 08, 2023 at 7:58 am)

A case of the rich getting richer

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