Cape Town – Will the much-villified and controversial Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat still have a role to play at the crucial two-day International Cricket Council (ICC) executive board meeting, starting on Tuesday in Dubai?
Lorgat, who has fallen foul of the Board of Control of Cricket India (BCCI), and in particular its president N Srinivasan, is not supposed to engage in any meetings of the ICC’s Chief Executive Committee, pending the outcome of an inquiry into his conduct. This was part of the terms and conditions for India’s curtailed tour to South Africa last year to actually take place.
But Lorgat is currently in Dubai, and while not part of the Cricket SA’s official delegation consisting of chief financial officer Naasei Appiah and president Chris Nenzani, who will the representative at the ICC Board meeting, he will conduct “a series of meetings” until Thursday in the United Arab Emirates.
Lorgat still enjoys an enormous amount of respect from various other Full Member countries for his role in setting up the Woolf Report in 2012, which hoped to restructure the ICC’s executive board to make it more independent and less dominated by the bigger countries. It also recommended a re-examination of the rights and benefits of the Test-playing Full Member nations, calling for measures to increase transparency in dealings by the ICC and its members.
This is in contrast to the current situation which has plunged South Africa’s cricket future into a depth of uncertainty, not seen since being banished into isolation back in 1970.
But in 2014 its livelihood is not dependent on an apartheid government changing its laws, but rather the outcome of the two-day ICC executive board meeting.
Cricket SA, despite boasting the World’s No 1 Test team, are currently on the outside of a list of proposals made by the sport’s three wealthiest boards – the England and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia and the BCCI.
The proposals, contained in a “position paper” that was handed to the ICC’s full members at a meeting earlier this month.
It is based on the implementation of a new two-tier competition for Tests (in which India, Australia and England can’t be relegated), a new leadership committee to contain senior representatives of all three boards on a permanent basis, and for the abolishment of the Future Tours Programme (FTP). India are currently not a signatary of the FTP.
Cricket SA have publicly called for the proposals to be withdrawn, describing them as “fundamentally flawed”, and being “in breach of the ICC Constitution”.
A proposal in the position paper also suggests the establishment of a Test fund to protect and support the highest form of the game in those countries where Test cricket is struggling to survive commercially. South Africa is the only full member country not on the beneficiary list.
Former ICC president Ehsan Mani has also since formally written a letter to the ICC to register his protest, which was undersigned by Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Gray, both former senior administrators with the ICC and CA, Clive Lloyd, former West Indies captain and former ICC cricket committee chairman, and Shaharyar Khan and Lt Gen. (retd.) Tauqir Zia, former Pakistan Cricket Board presidents and former South Africa captain Ali Bacher.
The BCCI, the most powerful of the “Big Three”, have taken a stance that their participation in the future ICC events (50 and 20-over World Cups) would be decided subject to the approval of the “Position Paper”. The next ICC World T20 is scheduled for Bangladesh in March.
As per ICC rules, seven of the 10 Board members (Test-playing nations) need to approve the controversial proposal, which could transform the meeting into a “three versus seven” fight.
Whether Lorgat still has the ability to influence the decision-makers from the other Full Member countries from outside the confines of the boardroom could play a major role in where South African cricket is heading.