The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rich but loser label on India

Chandigarh, Nov. 1: Indian officials called him a “frustrated” man, but Malcolm Speed has said what many disappointed cricket fans in the country have been wanting to say. There is the money all right, where’s the performance'

In the middle of a raging row with the Indian administrators of the game, the CEO of the world body said: “I am not trying to be critical of India, but the last time they won a major cricketing event was in 1983. Look at New Zealand, which has a population of 4 million and not much spending power, but has consistently performed well.”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive made the minor mistake of not mentioning the mini World Cup India won in 1985. An official of the Indian board reminded him that “we finished runners-up in the World Cup as recently as in 2003”. History, however, has a nasty habit of forgetting everyone except the winner.

Speed reminded India, which crashed out of the ongoing Champions Trophy, not even reaching the semi-finals — and that, too, on home soil — what it means to be a loser.

“I have an old-fashioned view about sports organisations. I do not judge on how much money they have in their bank accounts. I judge them on three things — their performance on the field, how well they look after their stakeholders (associations) and how their resources, that is the population, is utilised,” Speed said at a news conference.

The Indian board — BCCI — is the richest cricket body in the world. The players do not belong to the underprivileged classes either, and many have raised the question whether they deserve the money they get, given the performance. That includes the BCCI itself.

After the Champions Trophy defeat, the board is working on a payment scheme that will be linked to performance. Secretary Niranjan Shah said: “A lot of board members feel that performance-linked bonus payments should be introduced that will be disbursed among the players as part of the 13.5 per cent distribution of the board’s revenue to them every year.

“Those who perform well will get more from this share.”

Speed, of course, has targeted not the players but the board, with which his relations have never been cordial since the time of Jagmohan Dalmiya.

“In the end, it is the performance that counts. If India wins the 2007 World Cup next year, then maybe we can say that India’s booming economy has used its resources efficiently and is at the top of the ODI list,” he said.

Officially, the BCCI did not respond, but a top official said: “This is the reaction of a frustrated man. He obviously isn’t aware of the records. Let’s not dwell on the past, and remind him that we finished runners-up in the World Cup (2003).

“The BCCI is a constituent of the ICC and Speed is its paid official. He had no business talking like this. We will take up the issue at the appropriate forum.”

Speed has been involved in a war of words with the BCCI, especially its vice-president Lalit Modi, over a sponsorship deal India has refused to sign.

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BCCI annual retainership for some players (in Rs)

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