The voices of dissent have grown louder by the day. But despite having received plenty of flak, the BCCI, ECB and CA are expected to have their way with the recommendations of the controversial ‘position paper’ when the ICC convenes in Dubai for a two-day executive board meeting that could shape the future of world cricket.
For more than a week, ever since the factious plans of the three powerful boards became public, the governing body’s quarterly meeting has been hyped up as a turf war between the ‘big three’ and the rest of the cricket world. Among the major points of the ‘position paper’ are the BCCI’s demands for a lion’s share of the ICC’s revenues. They have already insisted on being intransigent on that front, threatening to back out of ICC competitions, including the World Cup, if the new revenue model that ensures them 21 per cent is not put in place.
Commercial interests aside, if all the recommendations do get the nod — for which seven of the full member Test nations including India, Australia and England need to approve the proposal — it will signal the beginning of a new era for world cricket. One where the BCCI, CA and ECB will call the shots.
In addition, the proposal also calls for the dilution of the Future Tours Programme (FTP) and a return to the practice of schedules being decided through bilateral commitments. This will mean India decide to play whoever they want to, on their terms, apart from hosting an ICC event once every two years. The BCCI and their allies have insisted that the other countries do stand to gain from the overhaul of the game’s administration. It will be interesting to see how many bite over the next two days at the ICC’s headquarters.
For now, three boards in particular, Cricket South Africa, Pakistan Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket, have come out strongly against the ‘position paper’. The cricket boards of New Zealand and West Indies, meanwhile, have so far kept their cards close to their chest and preferred a wait-and-watch strategy. They are expected to give the ‘position paper’ the go ahead.
Two days ago, Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim became the first contemporary cricketer to voice his misgiving regarding the new recommendations, especially the suggestion to introduce a two-tier system in Test cricket. The other dissenters have ranged from ex-cricketers to former ICC chiefs, including those from India, Australia and England.
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif felt that it was time for the other seven countries to unanimously boycott all ICC events to paralyse the proposed monarchy of the other three. “It is a case of the big three versus the spineless. If not all then at least Pakistan and South Africa could do it. Both should recognise their potential and take the lead in combating the possible takeover,” he said recently.
Another scathing critique came from former England captain Michael Atherton. “The tone of the proposal is so arrogant and high-handed as to recall an earlier age when the organisation began as the Imperial Cricket Conference,” he wrote in his column recently.
A bevy of former ICC honchos, led by Ehsan Mani, have also come out with a piquant exposition of the wholesale changes suggested to the governance of cricket. The ex-ICC chief, in fact, has accused the big three for having completely undermined the integrity and standing of the ICC in a 13-page evaluation of the proposal.
The Mani report, along with a formal letter signed by Malcolm Gray, Malcolm Speed, Clive Lloyd, Shahryar Khan and Tauqir Zia has been sent to the ICC and the member nations on the eve of the much-anticipated meeting. A major contention among the former officials is for a review of the Woolf report from 2012 that had called for an individual body to run the sport and for greater transparency in the running of the game.