All is well between India and Pakistan at the International Cricket Council (ICC), Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani has asserted.
“There was absolutely no rift between PCB and BCCI at the Directors meeting. The two-thirds or simple majority was not discussed at all,” Mani confirmed to The Indian Express via a text message.
The ICC Board met on Monday with an eye to finalise the election procedure and timeline for the next ICC chair. The position has fallen vacant after Shashank Manohar stepped down on June 30. At the moment, the global body’s deputy chairman Imran Khwaja is assuming the responsibilities of the chairperson until Manohar’s successor is elected.
The Board meeting yesterday, it is learnt, discussed about the election process but didn’t take any decision. This paper understands that the ICC Board comprising 18 members – chief executive Manu Sawhney doesn’t have a vote – is aiming to pick the next independent chair based on consensus. A BCCI official, too, insisted that there was no falling out between India and Pakistan at the global body.
Given the acute economic crisis, made worse for the Member boards by the postponement of the T20 World Cup this year – it affects the ICC’s revenue stream – almost every cricket nation is banking on bilateral series to generate revenue. With India being the game’s biggest revenue generator, other cricket nations look forward to bilateral series against India. Sources said some Member boards also want the BCCI to assume the leadership mantle at this moment of crisis. The Indian board is willing to build consensus for the next ICC chair.
From that point of view, it is widely believed that the next ICC chair has to have the BCCI’s backing. Manohar’s successor can be someone from India also, or a person backed by the Indian board, although, according to a senior BCCI official, the board is waiting for the election procedure and timeline to be released.
Grapevine has it that the ICC is keeping an eye on the August 17 court hearing, which is a reason for the delay. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the BCCI matter, including the watering down of the cooling-off clause and changes in disqualification criteria that the cricket board has requested for, next week. A lot might depend on whether Sourav Ganguly is allowed to continue as the BCCI president, for the ex-India captain could be a candidate for the independent ICC chair if his term ends here. As per the BCCI constitution, a person needs to serve a mandatory three-year cooling-off after six years in office. Going by the Lodha reforms, both Ganguly and board secretary Jay Shah have supposedly ended their respective term as office-bearers, state association and BCCI combined.
Coming back to India-Pakistan cricket relations, even without any bilateral cricket, the two south Asian giants have always maintained a good rapport – barring the odd exception during Najam Sethi’s time as PCB chairman – at the ICC. Mani, a former ICC president who is widely respected as a cricket administrator, has always hit the right note with his Indian counterparts since the days of the late Jagmohan Dalmiya. Last year, following his appointment as the ICC’s Finance and Commercial Affairs (F&CA) Committee chairman, he had spoken about the India-Pakistan cricket relations.
“The relationship between the boards (BCCI and PCB) is very good even today. Some very good people represent India at the ICC, both at the Board level and the chief executive level. Unfortunately, as far as cricket relationship is concerned, that is a political matter. Hopefully, the politicians will realise that it’s very important to resume cricket between the countries. Beyond that, I can’t say much,” Mani told this paper then.
As for the ICC Board, it needs to decide whether it will go by the two-thirds majority or a simple majority among 17 members – 12 Full Members, three Associate Members (Malaysia, Scotland and Singapore), interim chairman Khwaja and independent female director Indra Nooyi – to nominate the next independent chair. Or, in all likelihood, will it be done through consensus.