The proposals for a revamp of ICC governance have been attracting widespread criticism from across the cricketing world since they were leaked last week.
But the so-called position paper, which calls for the scrapping of the FTP, the introduction of promotion and relegation to Test cricket and for a radical shake-up of governance which puts more power into the hands of the ECB, BCCI and Cricket Australia, has attracted its highest profile critics today in the shape of former ICC president Ehsan Mani.
And he is not alone either with fellow former president Malcolm Gray, former ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, former South African Cricket Board head Ali Bacher, and West Indies legend Clive Lloyd, amongst others, adding their names to a letter to current ICC president Alan Isaac.
Mani provided a detailed rebuttal of many of the proposals in the document and called for due consideration to be given to the recommendations of the Woolf report. Referring to the three boards that are behind the position paper he said, “The Three Boards have completely undermined the integrity and standing of the ICC, its President and the Board of Directors in promoting their own agenda without due and proper discussion by the Board. Clearly, the right standard of Boardroom behaviour is not seen to be in place.”
Mani points out something that has been overlooked in the rush of many to point out the effects the position paper on the other seven full members, namely the effect it has on the associate & affiliate members off the ICC.
According to Mani, they will be over $300,000,000 worse off under the revenue distribution proposed by the paper. With the development program facing cuts that have led to the removal of Divisions 7 & 8 of the World Cricket League, a cut in the number of regional tournaments and a reduction of the number of teams allowed to participate in said tournaments, this is the last thing that associate and affiliate cricket needs.
Mani minces no words in his conclusion saying, “The Position Paper of the Working Group should be withdrawn and referred to an external independent panel to review and comment on. BCCI, CA and ECB should have no part in this process or subsequent discussion on this matter as they are clearly conflicted”. He goes on to call on the ICC Board to “discuss the Woolf Report with a view to implementing its recommendations as soon as possible.”
Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo Malcolm Speed, ICC Chief Executive from 2001 to 2008, also pointed out the effects the proposals have on cricket outside the full members saying, “I cannot see any reason whatsoever why India should receive extra funding from ICC Events at the expense of struggling countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Uganda, Kenya and the other 100 (sic) Associate and Affiliate members where every dollar counts.”
In a message to Alan Isaac, Ali Bacher said, “The Position Paper put forward by BCCI, ECB and CA if accepted would lead to division and strife in world cricket as never seen before.” Referring to the veto power previously exercised by England and Australia he said, “CC member countries should never forget the animosity that existed particularly in the Sub-continent and the Caribbean when England and Australia had veto rights prior to 1993.” The paper essentially calls for a return to the veto system, with India also having a veto.
The paper will be discussed over the next two days at the ICC board meeting. India have already made their gamble, threatening to pull out of ICC global events if the paper isn’t agreed to. Time will tell whether the other seven full members will call their bluff and vote against it, or fold and agree to it.
Some boards have come out with critical statements of some sections of the report. But long time followers of these ICC shenanigans will recall that they also did that ahead of the decision, later reversed, to restrict the 2015 World Cup to ten teams. In the final vote, all agreed with that proposal.
In many ways the worst thing that could happen is for the paper to be rejected outright and all the critics thinking that means the problem is solved. Cricket governance has long been in serious need of reform. This position paper isn’t it. The Woolf report, whilst in this writers opinion not perfect, was very much a step in the right direction. Mani, Speed, Bacher et al are right. The Woolf report needs to be put back on the table.
By: Andrew Nixon