Spheres of Influence, by Gideon Haigh

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The Independent Culture

Most fans know that the International Cricket Council are supposed to run the game worldwide; they also know that in fact the Board of Control for Cricket in India do so.

They also know why: money talks, and a cricket-obsessed country with over 1,100 TV channels is going to generate a lot more of the stuff than anyone else. But ask how we got to this position and the conversation tends to dry up.

Help is now at hand as the peerless Gideon Haigh, with a background in business as well as sports journalism, addresses precisely this question. Although this collection of articles spans several years, albeit buttressed by a lengthy opening chapter summing up the current scene, it hangs together impressively well and at times is eerily prescient; writing in 2008 of the England and Wales Cricket Board's disastrous association with the currently disgraced financier Sir Allen Stanford, Haigh observes: "Hmmmm. Let's just say that emerging unscathed from the subprime market's upheavals will be a challenge worthy of Sir Allen's mettle."

The point he also makes is that the ECB would not have been so desperate for Stanford's millions if they weren't trying to keep their players from the clutches of the megabucks Indian Premier League. And talking of the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal, he points out that the country's younger players are on a basic of less that £20,000 a year, whereas India's captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, banks nearly £7 million per annum from all sources.

Haigh doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but he's forensically illuminating about the problems, notably poor administration – "The ICC needs a committee to determine the day of the week." Timely stuff, written in timeless prose.

Published in paperback bySimon & Schuster, £7.99

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