Home » His dad is Modi’s right-hand man. India’s Jay Shah may soon be running world cricket

His dad is Modi’s right-hand man. India’s Jay Shah may soon be running world cricket

His dad is Modi’s right-hand man. India’s Jay Shah may soon be running world cricket

The next ICC chair, whoever it is, will also benefit from a constitutional tweak that means they will be able to serve two three-year terms, rather than three of two years each. More time for decisions and fewer hours spent clinging to power.

BCCI chief Jay Shah with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York during the Twenty20 World Cup.Credit: X | BCCI

As far as Cricket Australia and the England Cricket Board are concerned, preservation of an umbilical relationship with Shah and the BCCI will matter most. Assurances, in other words, that the junior members of the “big three” will not be frozen out by India if the ICC changes shape.

CA have more reasons than most not to rock the boat this year. India are due to tour in November for five Tests in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. No other tour is more valuable to Australian cricket than this one.

CA won’t just reap millions from domestic and international rights deals. Plenty of work has been done behind the scenes to leverage the trip for maximum commercial revenue, from ground advertising by Indian businesses – much more lucrative due to virtual signage – to corporate boxes for high-end travelling supporters.

This summer, and the next for an Ashes series against England, have been earmarked as the seasons for CA to rebuild millions of dollars in financial reserves. These were wiped away by the costs of staging cricket during COVID-19, most particularly during India’s last visit in the socially distanced summer of 2020-21. There is no question of treading on BCCI toes right now.

Shah has been BCCI secretary since 2019. He was the joint secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association, headquartered in Ahmedabad, from 2013, after joining the GCA’s board as early as 2009.

Such a record of advancement may have been partly because Shah showed talent for cricket administration.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah hands birthday cake to Indian captain Rohit Sharma.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah hands birthday cake to Indian captain Rohit Sharma.Credit: X | CricCrazyJohns

But in parallel there is a family story. He is the son of Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah, who was president of the GCA at the same time Jay Shah was joint secretary. Together, they brought about the construction of the cavernous Narendra Modi Stadium, the centrepiece of the prime minister’s recent image-making efforts and now host venue for all India’s big games.

But what would a Shah chairmanship actually mean? Most likely, a great deal of ICC staff turnover and possible relocation from Dubai, where it has been based since 2005, to Mumbai alongside the BCCI’s headquarters. The World Test Championship final, lost by India on English soil in 2021 and 2023, would also be likely to relocate.

A Shah supremacy would put Indian cricket in a position of still greater power over a host of decisions. These include financial distributions to other countries (Shah already heads the relevant committee of the ICC), tournament and series scheduling, and how much to fund projects like growing the game outside established cricket countries, and building greater opportunities among women.

All of these issues would be viewed through an increasingly India-centric lens – a lens where political optics will matter as much as cricket development.

Crowds surround the double-decker bus at the parade celebrating India’s T20 World Cup victory.

Crowds surround the double-decker bus at the parade celebrating India’s T20 World Cup victory.Credit: AP

One of Shah’s few public statements was made recently to emphatically deny the words of Ricky Ponting that he had been informally sounded out to coach India. Amit Shah then sat down for a photo opportunity and meeting with Gautam Gambhir, the leading candidate to replace Rahul Dravid and a former BJP parliamentarian.

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Pointedly, the importance of this week’s MCC summit in London to discuss the future of the game, where Barclay, CA’s chair Mike Baird and the ECB’s Richard Thompson are present, was secondary to a victory party with Modi for team India at home. Shah was only ever going to Lord’s if India lost.

World cricket has had Indian leadership before. Jagmohan Dalmiya, Sharad Pawar (another politician), N Srinivasan and Shashank Manohar all occupied the top chair at the ICC over the past couple of decades. In that time, the BCCI’s share of the ICC revenue pot has jumped from 10 per cent to nearly 40 per cent, to be more commensurate with India’s size of the cricket economy. But the BCCI has seldom, if ever, been more closely intermingled with the ruling party of government than it is now.

Following the conclusion of Cricket Connects at Lord’s, many of the same players will assemble in Colombo for the ICC’s annual conference. That event may turn out to be the place where Shah declares his intentions more widely, and discovers if there will be any opposition.