The Vital Decision: How Jawaharlal Nehru’s Choice Saved Indian Cricket’s ICC Membership

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Following India’s independence in 1947, the nation’s cricketing prospects were bleak, as it faced the looming threat of losing its membership in the esteemed global cricket governing body. Today, India stands as the dominant force in world cricket, proudly holding the title of superpower. Not only does India boast the wealthiest cricket board, but it also possesses one of the most formidable teams, poised to claim its third Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup. However, the journey to this glorious position was not without its challenges.

After India’s independence in 1947, the nation’s cricketing prospects were bleak, as it faced the looming threat of losing its membership in the esteemed global cricket governing body. Yet, a pivotal political decision made by the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, ensured that Indian cricket would remain an integral part of the Imperial Cricket Conference, now recognized as the International Cricket Council (ICC). Nehru’s choice to maintain India’s affiliation with the British Commonwealth was met with considerable criticism from his own party members. Despite the political ramifications, this decision proved to be a momentous one for Indian cricket, securing the country’s continued participation in the global cricketing community, which, at the time, was under the patronage of the British monarchy. Even after assuming the role of Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s passion for the sport remained unwavering, further cementing his legacy as a true cricket enthusiast. On January 26, 1950, India achieved the status of a Republic. However, the then British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, proposed that India could retain its republic status within the British Commonwealth and accept the King. Jawaharlal Nehru, on the other hand, had a different vision. He chose to remain in the Commonwealth but with India having its own president. This decision ensured that neither the British Commonwealth nor the British monarch held any authority over India.
Unfortunately, this move had a negative impact on Indian cricket, as it resulted in the loss of its permanent status within the Imperial Cricket Conference (ICC), now known as the International Cricket Council (ICC). During the first meeting at Lord’s after India gained independence, it was decided that India could only be a provisional member of the ICC. The ICC convened again two years later, on June 27 and 28, five months after India became a Republic. At this meeting, India was granted permanent membership due to Rule 5, which stated that a country’s ICC membership would be void if it was not part of the Commonwealth. If Nehru had not chosen to keep India in the Commonwealth, Indian cricket would have lost its ICC membership.
This single decision by Nehru altered the trajectory of Indian cricket, propelling it to become a dominant force in international cricket. India went on to achieve superpower status in the sport and even won two World Cups along the way.