Controversial shake-up: ‘Big Three’ put in charge of cricket

Published: February 9, 2014
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Pakistan, Sri Lanka abstain as ICC board approves reforms. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan, Sri Lanka abstain as ICC board approves reforms. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE: 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) board passed a wide-ranging and controversial shake-up of its governance and structure on Saturday, effectively placing India, England and Australia in charge of the game.

The dominant trio, or the ‘Big Three’, seemed to be the big winners after the proposals were approved by the necessary eight out of 10 full members at a hastily convened ICC board meeting in Singapore.

Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa had all opposed the revamp when it was debated last month, but South Africa’s Chris Nenzani voted in favour at Saturday’s meeting. Sri Lanka and Pakistan abstained.

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In the revamped ICC, India – which contributes 80% of global revenues – and fellow powerhouses England and Australia will have permanent seats on a new, five-member executive committee.

The committee will make recommendations to the decision-making body, the ICC board, which will be chaired by India’s N Srinivasan from the middle of this year.

Revenues will be distributed according to countries’ contributions – financial, sporting and historical – but the seven non-‘Big Three’ members will be boosted by a new Test Cricket Fund.

The Future Tours Programme, designed to guarantee series for all Test teams, will be changed with a series of binding, bilateral agreements to be struck between members.

And the World Test Championship, which was due to debut in 2017, has been scrapped, with the one-day Champions Trophy continuing in 2017 and 2021. The Test championship was deemed unworkable, a statement said.

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The representatives of South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka did not give details about their positions as they left the meeting, although Sri Lanka’s Nishantha Ranatunga said he would hold discussions with his board.

“Pakistan and Sri Lanka believed that they needed more time to discuss the amendments to the resolutions with their respective boards,” said ICC President Alan Isaac. “There is a hope that when we come back at the next meeting that they will able to also support the resolutions.”

India’s Srinivasan and Australia’s Wally Edwards declined to comment, but their fellow ‘Big Three’ member, England and Wales Cricket Board Chairman Giles Clarke, called it “a very good meeting”. “There was general agreement and (it was) all very satisfactory,” he told AFP.

The approval came as some surprise given the loud opposition which has erupted in the cricketing community to the original proposals made by the three influential countries.

Ahead of the meeting, a leaked document detailed South Africa’s reaction to the original proposal, which it called “extremely disappointing and indeed hurtful when originating from three great cricketing nations”.

BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel told ESPNcricinfo, “Now that the resolutions are passed, we can move on and the Chief Executives’ Committee and ICC board can continue to work on strengthening the structure of cricket.”

Former cricketer Imran Khan said the plan smacked of colonialism, while Lord Harry Woolf, author of a report which urged greater distribution of power at the ICC, called it “alarming” and “entirely motivated by money”.

“I don’t see how if we had this to consider we could see it as anything but a retrograde step,” Woolf told Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “It is giving extraordinary powers to a small triumvirate of three people, and everybody else has got no power to say anything or do anything.”

Anti-corruption group Transparency International expressed “serious concern… the intention to entrench a privileged position for ‘The Big Three’ appears to be an abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

Sri Lanka had also complained that the proposals violated the ICC constitution by not distributing revenues equally between members.

Despite the concerns, Isaac said it was important that cricket’s most influential countries now had a greater stake in the ICC, rather than be at risk of drifting away. “It’s been very important I think for ICC to have more commitment from those three members,” he said.

“They would say to you I think that in the past they’ve tended to concentrate on matters in their own country and perhaps not always spent the time helping, leading the ICC.

“So their original proposal was really part of a commitment to get more involved in the leadership of the ICC.”

Several of the proposals still need to be adopted by the ICC’s Full Council, and they will be drafted by various committees before being submitted for approval.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2014.

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