World cricket’s governing body has launched an investigation after the mysterious registration of companies in several Test match countries by the Indian conglomerate Essel Group.
The International Cricket Council fears that the companies are part of a wider plan by Essel to create a new “rebel” cricket league or to take over the running of the international game altogether.
According to reports, Essel Group used a Mauritius-based subsidiary to register “Australian Cricket Control” in Australia. Cricket Australia have already raised objections with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over the name. Another company registered in the UK is Cricket Control Scotland Limited.
In New Zealand, Essel are believed to have registered several companies, including “New Zealand Cricket Limited”.
Apart from the newly-registered companies a number of companies and individuals associated with Essel have registered new internet domain names.
Among the URL’s is www.worldcricketcouncil.co.in which was registered by an employee of Ten Sports, the cricket broadcaster which is a subsidiary of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL).
ZEEL in turn is owned by Essel Group, which is helmed by Indian billionaire Subhash Chandra.
Mr Chandra has long held a dream of reviving the Indian Cricket League (ICL) – the precursor to the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as a response to the ICL.
Mr Chandra and Zee were unable to gather support for the ICL from the BCCI and has even accused the Indian board of “intimidation” and “stealing” the hugely popular and lucrative format.
Some experts believe Mr Chandra and ZEEL are planning a rebel league and administration similar to Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket which caused such controversy in the 1970’s.
Like Packer, Mr Chandra – who has a personal fortune of $4 billion – has at his disposal a broadcaster with rights to international cricket in South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, countries that are outside the immediate purview of the “Big Three” nations of India, England and Australia.
The dominance of these three nations – in particular India – has caused consternation among players, administrators and fans for a number of years.
An ICC spokesman said administrators were aware of Essel’s moves – which first emerged in December 2014 – and are making enquiries.