Apart from agreeing upon a new financial model, the International Cricket Council (ICC) during its Board meeting in Dubai on Saturday has proposed a more democratic, inclusive and transparent governance structure that allows opportunity even to smaller cricket nations to be relevant. The proposals look ambitious at the outset and need approval of the ICC Board at its next round of meetings in April before the changes become reality following ratification at the Annual Conference in June.
Some of the proposed governance overhauls are strikingly similar to the Lodha reforms. “The potential to include additional Full Members” — Afghanistan and Ireland – mirrors the Lodha Committee recommendation of every state’s representation in the BCCI. The proposed introduction of an independent female director in the ICC Board comes along the lines of a female member’s presence in the Indian cricket board’s apex council. The world body also wants “equal weight of votes” for all Board members irrespective of their membership status. The Lodha Committee, too, has recommended something similar in Indian cricket – Mumbai and a North-Eastern state for example will have equal voting rights regardless of their on-field cricket exploits. And like the Supreme Court-appointed panel, the ICC also intends to allow all members to attend the AGM.
All 105 can vote
The revised model proposes to remove the Affiliate level of membership, retaining only two categories; Full Member and Associate Member with the power to exercise their rights at the Annual Conference. Every proposal goes to the Annual Conference after being approved by the Board. So as per the proposed change, all 105 ICC members can exercise their voting rights. This proposal, if approved, will make the world cricket body very akin to the methods followed in Fifa, where Brazil and India, for example, have equal weight of votes irrespective of their football stature.
Ever since becoming the independent ICC chairman in May 2016, Shashank Manohar had been urging a changed governance structure to ensure no member feels left out. “I have to look after the interests of 105 countries,” he had said in an interview with this paper last year. Today, he reiterated his stand, saying: “I want the ICC to be reasonable and fair in our approach to all 105 Members and the revised constitution and financial model does that.”
Awarding Afghanistan Cricket Board’s Ahmad Shah Abdali regional four-day tournament first-class status and the Shpageeza T20 League List A status suggests that the ICC wants to help the game grow in smaller nations. Cricket needs to spread its appeal to countries outside the Commonwealth to become a truly global sport and the proposals are steps in the right direction.
Transparency and integrity
Transparency and integrity come from initiating the process of amending the Anti-Corruption Code to allow the cell phone data extraction equipment. The ICC needs legal consent to introduce the technology but it has become more proactive to subdue corruption. A huge chunk of illegal cricket betting is conducted over cell phones.
The proposed universal use of the DRS attests transparency. For so long the Decision Review System had been at the BCCI’s mercy that chose to ignore it until the recently concluded home series against England. No other sport allows the liberty of having different sets of rules for different countries. The global body has proposed consistency.
Changes to the “Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process” will make member boards more accountable to the required standards. “Demerit Points” and the possibility of suspension should create a level playing field. This proposal, if approved and ratified, is likely to thwart the use of underprepared pitches or lopsided seamer-friendly decks.
With West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell’s doping incident and his subsequent one-year ban still very fresh, setting up a Medical Advisory Committee was the need of the hour. Not many cricket boards have a concerted anti-doping education programme for their players. Very few act in tandem with the WADA guidelines, at least at the domestic level. The ICC medical committee will advise on sports medicine and sports science issues at international level.
Less India in ICC
For too long, the ICC has had been at superpowers’ mercy. England and Australia ruled it during the days of International Cricket Conference before India became the game’s biggest power. In every other sport, the parent body provides leadership. The ICC never enjoyed the status of Fifa or IOC among its members because it refused to become inclusive. In Dubai on Saturday, cricket’s governing body showed leadership aspirations.
Winds of Change in ICC
Following were the highlights of the new governance and financial structure adopted by ICC in principle.
– Removal of the Affiliate level of membership so only two categories; Full Member and Associate Member. All 105 members will have voting rights.
– A revised financial distribution ensuring a more equitable distribution of revenues
– A revised constitution to reflect good governance, expanding and clarifying of the roles and objectives of the ICC to provide leadership in international cricket.
– The potential to include additional Full Members (Ireland and Afghanistan subject to both meeting membership criteria).
– The introduction of membership criteria and a Membership Committee established to ensure ongoing compliance.
– The introduction of an independent female director.
– Equal weight of votes for all Board members regardless of membership status.
– All members to be entitled to attend the AGM.
– Nine-team Test league run over a two year cycle. Consistency in the use of DRS.
– Remaining three Test teams to be guaranteed a consistent and confirmed schedule of Test matches against all other teams.
– 13-team ODI league run over a 3- year period leading into qualification for World Cup 2023.
– Regional T20 structure to be developed as a pathway to qualification for the ICC World T20.
– Changes to the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process with Demerit Points and suspension.
– Afghanistan’s domestic four-day tournament gets first-class status.