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In cricket’s biggest test, Indian board takes first innings lead

All member countries agree ‘in principle’ to BCCI, ECB, CA plans at crucial ICC meet in Dubai; Final call on ‘position paper’ to be taken on February 8.

ICC CEO Dave Richardson was at the core of Tuesday’s meeting ICC CEO Dave Richardson was at the core of Tuesday’s meeting

The BCCI’s plans of world domination, along with the ECB and Cricket Australia (CA), hit a minor glitch but they ended the day confident that it was only a matter of time before they eventually take over the reins. An Indian board official, in fact, insisted that the ‘big three’ would have their way within the next 10 days despite some of the other cricket boards voicing certain reservations about the draft proposal that promised a new world order.

What began as a day that was expected to see the landscape of world cricket change forever ended up being one where the member boards were locked in finding compromise formulas with the BCCI, ECB and CA managing to procure ‘unanimous support’ on many of their original proposals.

Though the ICC release insisted that all the member boards had agreed on principle with the overhaul formula, the governing body will convene again on February 8 to discuss the matter further and take a final call.

As expected – and as reported by this paper – the BCCI remained adamant on their claims of earning a lion’s share of the ICC’s revenues henceforth during the six-hour long meeting in Dubai. They were, however, more flexible when it came to the many other recommendations suggested in the ‘position paper’, which incidentally didn’t come to vote on Tuesday.

According to the official, none of the other member boards were against the new ‘contribution cost’ model of revenue sharing. But the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in particular were not in favour of the BCCI gaining a ‘central leadership role’, insisting that the governance of the game was better off when it was shared equally by the member boards.

boardgames

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf had categorically expressed his board’s opposition to the concept while speaking to a TV channel prior to the meeting. But Ashraf is said to have been cajoled later into accepting the ‘watered-down’ proposals by the BCCI officials at the meeting.

“We asked them, how long will you play against South Africa? Do you want to play against India or not? This is in your best interest,” added the official.

Unlike the BCCI’s steadfast stand on the finance issue, there were many give-and-take alterations – which were agreed on ‘principle’ by all the member boards – made to the other pertinent points in the original ‘position paper’. It started with the withdrawal of the two-tier formula to Test cricket which would have meant immediate relegation for Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Instead the 10 Test playing nations will continue to play the traditional format but there will be an option of the last two being relegated – with no amnesty for India, Australia or England. This could mean that those just outside the top-10, the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan especially, can now foster hopes of finally breaking into the big league.

Having ostracised Cricket South Africa (CSA) for a major part in the proposal, the authors of the ‘position paper’ decided to include the No.1 Test team among the seven countries set to become annual beneficiaries of the Test Match Fund.

The BCCI also got the other member boards to accept the idea of setting up a new executive committee (ExCo) and Financial & Commercial Affairs Committee (F&CA) that will lead the way at an operational level. But now the three nations will be joined by two more member representatives with the top-post no longer guaranteed for one of the big three nations.

The proposal did, however, see some opposition from a few boards, with the PCB, CSA and Sri Lanka Cricket having asked for any decision on it to be deferred. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) was the only one to vehemently oppose the ‘position paper’, insisting that it will not ‘endorse any proposal that compromises Bangladesh’s full member rights in terms of status and participation’. The CSA were among a few other member nations who ascertained that their support was pertaining to the approval of their respective boards.

‘Public posturing’

The BCCI though remained undeterred, dismissing the statements from the BCB in particular as mere ‘public posturing’ in a bid to bargain for improved stakes in the build-up to the follow-up ICC board-meeting next month.

“We were never bothered about the voting. The BCCI never pressed hard for it. Some progress has been made, now I think it has boiled down to further negotiations,” a BCCI functionary, who attended the meeting, told The Indian Express. “We want to reach a consensus amicably. Let’s see what happens in the follow-up meeting. As far as BCB is concerned, I think they are more keen on safeguarding their Test status. Like ICC, our emphasis, too, is on meritocracy.”

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