I have to look after interests of 105 countries… BCCI must look after theirs, says ICC chairman Shashank Manohar

ICC chairman Shashank Manohar clarifies the world body's stance on two tier Test systems, financial distribution and reported issues with BCCI.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata | Updated: September 9, 2016 2:02 pm
Shashank Manohar, Shashank Manohar ICC, ICC president, ICC chief, ICC chairman, ICC vs BCCI, ICC two tier tests, ICC revenue, ICC revenue division, cricket, cricket news, sports, sports news Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar is the independent chairman of the International Cricket Council. (Source: File)

Shashank Manohar, the independent ICC chairman, has become very unpopular among the BCCI members of late. The allegation is that under his charge, the global body has been working against the interests of the Indian cricket board, ignoring the latter’s contribution to the ICC coffers. Two-tier Test system and centralised marketing of the global broadcast rights for bilateral series were the two very recent issues where the BCCI had been on the warpath with the ICC. When The Indian Express contacted Manohar on Thursday, he spoke his mind. Excerpts:

The allegation is that Shashank Manohar being the ICC chairman from India, he is not serving India’s interests.

I have to serve the ICC’s interests, because it’s my duty as the independent chairman of the ICC to look at the best interests of the ICC and not to promote the interests of any individual country. I have been elected by all the directors of various countries.

The logic here is that Manohar became the BCCI’s representative to the ICC first and India is his country. Still, India doesn’t have a representation in the ICC’s finance and commercial affairs committee and chief executives committee.

The (new) finance committee and the chief executives committee are yet to be formed, because it is only after the Annual Conference that these committees are formed, and those will be formed at the first meeting which will be held in October this year. The committees have to be approved by the board of directors, so you can’t criticise on issues that don’t even exist today. At the Annual Conference all committees come to an end and ICC forms fresh committees. They are appointed at the board of directors meeting. The BCCI representative would be accommodated in either of the two.

Some Indian cricket board members say that after becoming the ICC chairman (in November last year) you had promised to look after Indian cricket’s interests at one BCCI special general meeting.

That’s true but at that time I was the BCCI president and it was my duty to look after the BCCI’s interests. Today I’m unconnected with any particular member of the ICC. I’m the independent ICC chairman, so I have to look at the best interests of the ICC. It’s for the BCCI representative to look after the best interests of the BCCI.

Are you perturbed by the allegations?

I’m least bothered about the allegations till the time my conscience is clear and I’m working honestly for an organisation. People are free to make allegations and there’s no individual on this earth against whom allegations are not made.

There’s no individual on this earth who is not criticised for his actions, because one cannot satisfy always 100 per cent of people. I have to look after the interests of 105 countries and suppose tomorrow, if this logic is extended, if there’s a person from South Africa at the helm (do you think) he should only look after the interests of South Africa?

But India is contributing to 70 per cent of the ICC’s revenue, do you think the BCCI’s position should be a little different?

I don’t agree with this. Then, why the same logic shouldn’t apply to the BCCI? There are 30 state associations, why shouldn’t somebody have a veto power? I ask a question to myself, why shouldn’t the same status be given to some associations in India? For example, Mumbai generates the highest revenue but does that mean that they should have a veto power on the BCCI decisions? Institutions function in a democratic manner and decisions are taken by the majority.

There’s also a lot of resentment over your decision to leave the BCCI amid crisis.
I had told BCCI members and the office bearers four months in advance that I can’t run this organisation with these new recommendations. Even otherwise, in view of the Lodha Committee recommendations, I could not have continued as Vidarbha, the state I represented, would have become an associate member. So I would have had to resign anyway.

I was the sitting BCCI representative to the ICC and in that capacity I was the ICC chairman as well as the BCCI president. I resigned from both these positions simultaneously in spite of the fact that the ICC regulations permitted me to continue as the chairman till the Annual Conference. My resignations were before the nominations for the independent post of ICC chairman were filed.

There’s another allegation that after you assumed charge, some clauses in the ICC constitution have been changed while keeping the BCCI in the dark.

Nothing has been amended in the ICC constitution except the clause relating to the election of an independent ICC Chairman and this amendment was passed unanimously by the Full Council.

Presently the ICC has appointed a group of five directors to look into the present ICC constitution. The group is working on it, and after that it would be circulated to all the directors in advance and would then be considered by the board of directors. The whole process might take about three-four months.

What do you make of the BCCI’s threat of pulling out of the Champions Trophy next year?

I cannot comment on that. Let’s see what happens.

Of late, the ICC has been drawing a lot of flak over the two-tier Test system and centralised marketing of the broadcast rights of bilateral series.

For the last four days I’m looking at the papers. Now I can tell as a fact, this issue was raised by Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia and came up at the CEC meeting in Edinburgh (earlier this year).

Being the chairman of the ICC, I don’t attend the CEC meetings, but I was specifically called for this agenda item. I said at the meeting that the ICC is not empowered to look into this because these bilateral rights are rights belonging to home boards and it’s for them to decide what to do. The ICC has nothing to say in this. This matter can’t be deliberated on the ICC platform.

The same thing was told at the board of directors meeting. Even the September 6 and 7 meetings (in Dubai) weren’t official ICC meetings which were called by the ICC. At the Annual Conference I had said that the ICC can be a facilitator for member boards. Mr Ajay Shirke and Rahul Johri were present at the CEC meeting and Mr Thakur was present at the directors meeting. So (they) are aware of all that transpired.

On this background, I fail to see which sources the media is quoting and saying that the two-tier Test system is the brainchild of the ICC.

I said at the meeting that the decline in crowd attendance for Test matches is not because there’s no content. What should be done is a survey. You should find out why the popularity of Test cricket has diminished. For that you will have to interview people who watch T20 games or ODI games.

Because there the stadiums are full, so those people are interested in watching the game of cricket. In earlier days, there were only about five Tests in two years’ time. There was no television. So people used to go and stadiums used to be full. But today, for all 365 days, there’s some game going on somewhere in the world. So you can watch a game of cricket anytime, any day.

So why would a person waste seven hours for five days, from 10-5? All these things had been argued at the meeting.

There’s also a feeling that the ICC chief executive David Richardson is trying to do things which could be detrimental to India.

I cannot speak for David Richardson.

There’s another debate over the reported allocation of $135million to the ECB for the Champions Trophy, while the BCCI had been given $45million to host the World T20.

That’s not factually correct. The budget for the WT20 2016 including the television production cost was $55,084116 ($55 mn) . However, the budget for the Champions Trophy 2017 including television production cost is $46,781507 ($46 mn).

Yes, there were more matches and teams at the WT20 2016 compared to what will be there for the Champions Trophy. But the Champions Trophy games are full day games and the accommodation and travel cost in the UK are substantially higher that what they were in India.