India have missed the April 25 deadline to submit their Champions Trophy squad to the ICC. ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI told the ICC that it could not submit the squad for “operational” reasons. The other seven countries have all announced their squads.
According to a BCCI official, the delay was inevitable. With the BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhury and CEO Rahul Johri attending the ICC meetings this week, and captain Virat Kohli playing the IPL, all concerned parties couldn’t be in one place at the same time to pick the squad.
“We have told the ICC the reason behind the delay,” the official told ESPNcricinfo. “We have told them we will announce it soon.”
However, the delay is being seen as a message from the BCCI to the ICC that it can still withdraw from the Champions Trophy should its demand to retain its share of revenue not be met. The ICC had earlier initiated reforms to undo the big-three revenue model, which could have brought the BCCI’s share down from $570 million to $290 million.
Earlier in the week, ESPNcricinfo revealed negotiations in the lead-up to the crucial ICC meetings, in which the ICC offered to raise the BCCI’s share to close to $400 million.
The ICC board meets on Wednesday and Thursday to ratify the proposed reforms. These changes are part of the draft constitution, which comprises key resolutions like the latest finance model and the governance structure reforms devised by a five-man working group led by ICC chairman Shashank Manohar.
Although the BCCI official denied there was any realistic chance of India pulling out of the Champions Trophy, there has been growing speculation that the BCCI might issue the threat. The ICC will not be perturbed at this juncture: the threat has to be presented in a written form, and neither of the BCCI office bearers attending the ICC board meeting has the power to renege on the Members Participation Agreement (MPA). The Supreme Court has given that power to the Committee of Administrators (COA).
“To pull out you have to revoke the MPA, which is a legal document,” the board official said. “All the legal authority sits with the COA. The office bearers will need to consult the COA. You can make a threat, but you have to follow it up with a letter to become a reality. Then if the COA approves then it will direct Johri, who is the only one authorised to sign such a letter.”
The ICC said it was “working with the BCCI to ensure that it meets its obligation under the MPA”. According to the MPA, which has been signed by all eight participating teams, the squads had to be submitted – but not necessarily publicly announced – a month before May 25, which is when the tournament’s support period begins. During the support period, teams will play warm-up matches leading up to the start of the tournament proper on June 1.
Teams are free to make changes to their submitted squads until May 25. From then on, changes can only be made on medical grounds, and only after they have been approved by the event technical committee.
The April 25 date was not necessarily a deadline for boards to announce their squads publicly. The BCCI could have submitted a provisional squad to the ICC by April 25 without making an announcement. The main reason for the early deadline was to ensure the smooth completion of flight and hotel bookings, promotion, publicity and merchandising. This practice is similar to those carried out before other major world events.
In the past, teams have asked for extensions of a day or two, and have been granted that extension by the ICC, but the BCCI had not made such a request. There is no sanction or penalty if a member board fails to meet the deadline. The BCCI has not told the ICC when it will submit its team.