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Cricket’s at the crossroads

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Cricket South Africa were joined yesterday by thePakistan Cricket Board in drawing a line in the sand over proposals emanating from the International Cricket Council’s finance and commercial affairs committee about the restructuring of the ICC, which will ostensibly leave power in the hands of just three boards.

The two organisations are, as yet, the only full members (Test- playing countries) of the ICC to publicly voice their opposition to draft proposals that will effectively lead to the sport being run by India, England and Australia.

According to Reuters the PCB will instruct chairman Zaka Ashraf not to support any changes that “would divide the cricket world and effectively give all veto powers to India, Australia and England.”

The draft proposal, which was leaked at the weekend, will be discussed at an ICC executive Board meeting in Dubai on January 28 and 29. The proposals have been met with scorn in many parts of the cricketing world as it will lead to a further imbalance in an organisation already hopelessly beholden to the financial dominance of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Essentially the proposals, which include plans for a two-tier Test competition and the division of finances among all members, are heavily weighted in favour of the three who made the proposals; the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The International Cricket Council remain a weak organisation, primarily because they offer little direction for the sport. That has directly led to these proposals being drawn up by their three wealthiest members, and by many accounts the ECB, Cricket Australia and the BCCI did so in secret.

Quite how much of a role Dave Richardson (the ICC’s chief executive), Campbell Jamieson ( the general manager, commercial) and Faisal Hasnain (chief financial officer), who all sit on the ICC’sfinance and commercial affairs committee, had in the drawing up of these proposals is unknown.

Neil Speight, an ICC director from Bermuda who represents the Associate members said he’d had no knowledge of the proposals until they had been handed to full members on January 9.

Thus far Cricket SA are the only full member to strongly voice their disapproval of the proposals, with their president Chris Nenzani, in a letter to the ICC president Alan Isaac, describing the draft proposal as “fundamentally flawed,” and being “in breach of the ICC constitution.”

The ICC ‘responded’ yesterday, but not really responding – saying they would only comment on the matter once their Board had had an opportunity to “meet and properly consider the proposals.”

Like CSA was over the weekend, other Boards have been locked in talks about the proposals, with the West Indies Cricket Board due to complete a meeting of their executive in the early hours of this morning (SA time).

The most worrying aspect of the draft relates to finances and how funds will be distributed among members. A new funding model has been proposed by the three boards based on what the document describes as a “contribution cost” which recognises each members’ contribution in generating revenue for the ICC.

Based on that, those members that generate the most revenue will receive a greater share of the ICC revenue – which given their financial strength, based entirely on the country having the largest cricket market because of their huge population – means India will receive the highest proportion of revenue generated from ICC events like the World Cup or World T20.

Cricket SA’s statement late on Monday night also calls for a broader consultative process – while also expressing their dismay at the clandestine manner in which the talks took place between the English, Indian and Australian authorities. Certainly the meeting in Dubai next week is looming as a critical crossroads for the international game.

Key proposals of the draft:

New finance model of ICC revenue distribution – heavily weighted in favour of India, England and Australia, who generate the most revenue.

The BCCI, CA and ECB will have overwhelming authority in a new executive committee, with permanent membership. A fourth member of the executive will be voted in a rotational basis.

England, India and Australia will be made exempt from relegation in a new two-tier Test structure.

Members will agree to tours on a bilateral basis, making the current Four Tours Programme defunct.

The BCCI, CA and ECB to nominate for key positions in ICC, including chairman, chairmen of ExCo and finance & commerial affairs committee.

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