Indian cricket board is not interested in promotion of the game, says president Sheikh Ahmad
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) came in for some severe tongue-lashing from the Olympic Council of Asia on the last day of the Asian Games here on Saturday.
The Sri Lankan team celebrates winning gold after beating Afghanistan in the cricket final. Pic/PTI
In the closing media address, the President of the OCA, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, said the BCCI treats its sport as 'merely' a business venture and does not look at promoting the sport or making it global.
"They have not sent the team for the second time to the Games. While I respect their decision, I am sorry to say and I believe they are not interested in promotion of the game but only in making it a business, in making money out of it," said the OCA president.
"The fact remains that they are looking at the financial situation and how to control the game. They are holding it too close to their chest like a baby but they need to realise that this baby has to grow."
For Incheon, the BCCI did not send the men's or the women's teams. While Indian men cricketers make huge amounts of money from the Indian Premier League and are paid handsomely by the BCCI, the same cannot be said about the women.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah
The BCCI could have sent the women's team, who would have benefitted by winning a medal and it may well have been a gold. Recently, former India captain Anjum Chopra had said that Indian women's team was suffering from lack of exposure.
Former cricketers upset
Another women's cricket former star, Diana Eduljee had said an Asian Games medal would have earned the players awards from the government, which honours medallists from Asian Games. That would also have helped spread the game.
Cricket, which made its debut at the Asian Games in 2010 in Guangzhou, has been part of a multi-discipline Games only once before — at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
"Cricket is a very famous sport in that region and in the Commonwealth countries. It's a top sport in India. "All the athletes of various sports like Wushu, Kabaddi, Sepak Takraw which are not in the Olympic Games are participating in these Games.
"I am sad that the top athletes of cricket were not allowed to take part," said Sheikh Al-Sabah. He said this way cricket could never be part of the Olympic Games and would remain confined to the Commonwealth.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sent both men's and women's teams while Pakistan sent a women's team. China and South Korea also took part in both men's and women's competition.
Sri Lanka won the men's gold beating Afghanistan in the final, while Pakistan won the women's gold for the second time.
In recent years Australian players have been asking for cricket to be included in the Olympic programme.