India will play in the Champions Trophy

Sources have hinted that a full-strength Indian team will play in the prestigious tournament in England.

India will take the field against Pakistan in a league match at Edgbaston, Birmingham on June 4.    -  K. R. DEEPAK

India is the holder of the ICC Champions Trophy, which it won in 2013, and it is certain, notwithstanding motivated leaks to the media, that Virat Kohli’s team will take the field against Pakistan in a league match at Edgbaston, Birmingham on June 4. 

People occupying important positions and empowered to take decisions on this matter have thrown sufficient hints that a full-strength Indian team will play the tournament in England.

A handful of BCCI officials, hurt by the ICC Board’s firm decision to go ahead with the administrative reforms (governance and revenue structures), had considered withdrawing Team India from the eight-nation tournament.

But the idea of a resolution to this effect was dropped before the BCCI’s Special General Meeting (SGM) at New Delhi on April 19, two days before the BCCI delegates flew to Dubai for the ICC meetings. This happened because there was strong opposition articulated within the BCCI and conveyed to the office-bearers in no uncertain terms. A former BCCI president insisted that the resolutions should not be tinkered with, but the office-bearers were told to abandon the provocative resolution and they did so after some posturing.

The BCCI has convened an SGM in New Delhi on May 7 to apprise members of the outcomes of the ICC meetings. Vinod Rai, chairman of the Committee of Administrators appointed by the Supreme Court of India, told the BCCI that May 12 would be too late for an SGM and that it should be either on May 5 or 7.

There will be voices at the SGM opposed to any move to thwart or stall India’s participation in the tournament. Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, president of the Cricket Association of Bengal and India’s representative in the ICC commentary panel, is expected to speak for the Indian team. There are others such as Uttar Pradesh’sRajeev Shukla, Maharashtra’s Abhay Apte, and Vidarbha’s Anand Jaiswal who are expected to give primacy to the game of cricket and to institutions and not be swayed by bruised egos. These people will expect acting president C.K. Khanna to take control of proceedings at the SGM and make a stand that will support the game and the tournament.

In any case, a decision other than enabling and confirming India’s full participation in the Champions Trophy is likely to be shot down by the CoA. It is clear that the CoA, which has engaged constructively over the past three months with ICC members and, of course, with the chairman, Shashank Manohar, appreciates that Team India should not become pawns in the games played by present and past BCCI officials.

The BCCI has found itself isolated within the International Cricket Council in recent months. There are doubts about India having its way in ICC future tour programmes that involve bilateral series, in the event of its staying away from the Champions Trophy. The BCCI knows that Cricket South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board are aggressively positioning their own Twenty20 Leagues, and the Big Bash is already a big success in Australia. These countries have the option of denying no objection certificates to their players for the IPL.

There will be other ramifications from the broadcasters who have signed massive deals with the BCCI and the ICC; and in the present vitiated environment, cricket’s market value can plummet if feuds break out between ICC members. Fourteen years ago, a dispute of a different kind during the 2003 World Cup resulted in the ICC having to pay a broadcaster $75 million. The ICC recovered the money from its full members, although the BCCI got away without paying its share.