What happens when the entire cricketing community turns against a mega-mind, who gave cricket its most illustrious main event after the world cup? The guy simply decides to replace the entire cricketing establishment with a creation of his own.
While the world applauded Lalit Modi for creating a cricket league rivalling the best in the world of sports, an obvious fact escaped many. The “Moses of cricket”, as Ravi Shastri described him, at heart was and is nothing but a simple, plain mercenary, as his claims to the ABC’s Four Corners program about creating a rebel cricket body and another league, suggest.
“We’re talking about another cricketing system. There is a blueprint out there, it’s got my rubber stamp on it. I have been involved in it. I say it for the first time, I’ve been involved in putting that (blue) print together,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Showing utter disdain for the rules of the game Modi put crony capitalism at the centre of his execution plans, where his relatives, friends and business interests coalesced to create a product, on the strength of an audience bored with the longer format of the game. Megabucks were thrown to lure players of international stature to make the league truly representative of the best in the business.
The blueprint, as Modi calls it, is ready and has been approved. The process will cost billions and the organisation plans to recruit leading cricketers. The new establishment will depose ICC and will work closely with the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
Modi, who moved to London after being raided by the tax and financial crime authorities in 2010, has often criticized the manner in which the ICC functions and even raised his objection against the recently-devised policy of the ‘Big Three,’ that has given the cricket boards of India, Australia and England a lot of control in the manner in which the ICC functions. Modi went on to suggest that putting in a ‘few billion dollars’ for his plan and ‘taking on the existing establishment’ would not ‘be a problem.’
A fugitive from the law at the moment, with arrest warrants against him, Modi still draws attention and international scrutiny. The reason is not far to find. Business tycoons across the world, who see great economic potential in the T-20 league, admire the man and have obviously little time for ethical niceties that the traditionalists value so much.
Modi, who has been at constant loggerheads with the former president of Board of Control for Cricket in India and current ICC chief N. Srinivasan, also harbours the dream of an affiliation with the Olympic movement.
“I have been proposing that (affiliation with the Olympic movement). The ICC will never agree to that; never means never. That means they would have to do away with the ICC. It is a plan that one day, if I ever implement it, will rewrite history in sport.”
Modi, given his fugitive status and problems with the Indian state, may not be the right person to lead this new ‘revolution’ driven purely by greed and profits, but do not underestimate the power of the ‘rebels’. The IPL was created to finish off a rebel league launched by Zee TV’s Subhash Chandra. Ironically, the IPL itself may have created a strong possibility of dismantling the traditional power structures of cricket as we know them today.