Sri Lankan Legend Ranatunga Calls Out BCCI Over ‘One Board, One Individual’, and Arbitrary Decisions

Hitting out at Jay Shah and BCCI, Arjuna Ranatunga pulled no punches, and said random decision-making like a reserve day only for India-Pakistan would spell a “disaster in the future.”

New Delhi: In sharpest comments yet over the outsized role that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) plays in global cricket, Sri Lankan former cricket captain, the legendary Arjuna Ranatunga, has hit out at “one board or one individual” [referring to the BCCI] making arbitrary decisions and said that the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and International Cricket Council (ICC) need to stand up and be counted. Jay Shah, BCCI secretary, is also the president of the ACC.

Criticising the decision to add a reserve day for the Asia Cup Super-Four match between India and Pakistan, which ESPN Cricinfo noted, was “the only game in the tournament apart from the final to get the advantage – after the tournament had started,” the portal reported that “Arjuna Ranatunga has warned that favouring one team (read India) over others will put international cricket in peril.”

He said, “You take the Asia Cup. You have rules before the tournament, but before that one game, they changed the rules,” Ranatunga was quoted by PTI as saying at an interaction with members of the media. “Where is ACC? Where is ICC? I am not very comfortable when you have a tournament where you change rules for one team. You are looking at a disaster in the future.”

He didn’t stop at that. “I won’t be surprised if they change the rule before the India-Pakistan game [at the upcoming ODI World Cup],” Ranatunga said. “ICC will keep their mouth shut and say ‘okay, do it’. ICC just talks rubbish, nothing happens.”

Ranatunga said world cricket should not be governed by one board or one individual, and that other boards should stand up for their rights, reported ESPN Cricinfo.

He had sharp things to say on “former cricketers” who need “the bucks” that BCCI has to offer.

“I feel very sad for ICC and ACC because they just want to hold the positions. Former cricketers too don’t open, simply because they need the bucks,” he is reported as saying.

The Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) decision to keep a reserve day only for the India vs Pakistan match in the Asia Cup 2023 (other than the tournament final) received a lot of flak.

Hindustan Times reported that “the decision [to have a Reserve Day] turned out to be a crucial one as India won the match by a record margin on the reserve on the reserve day. If it wasn’t for a mid-tournament rule change then India and Pakistan would have shared points for that match and because India lost their last Super 4 match to Bangladesh, they would have been knocked out of the tournament instead of Pakistan. Of course, these are all hypothetical scenarios but that’s how significant the reserve day was.”

BCCI has as its secretary, Jay Shah, also the son of India’s home minister Amit Shah, effectively considered the only other power centre that matters after Prime Minister Modi in India. Shah became secretary at the age of 30, raising eyebrows at the time. BCCI and Shah’s alleged hold over the international cricket calendar has come under a cloud after a recent investigation. Sharda Ugra wrote in The Caravan, “While the BCCI’s arrogance has been moored around money, it has also benefited from cross-party political connections – the organisation has usually featured politicians from both sides of the aisle. What is now at play, however, is something different. In what already was a monopsony, an oligarch has taken over the cartel. We are witnessing for the first time in the BCCI the gradual solidification of the soft power of not politicians as a lot but of a single political party.”

The Wire had reported earlier on how India-Pakistan tensions and the control that BCCI has on international cricket bodies was being noticed and coming under scrutiny.