October 5, 2009

ICC

A question of responsibility

Martin Williamson

The ICC has been coming in for a fair amount of sniping of late as a result of teams being unable to take part in its events because of issues with visas. This is not about the game’s big boys, but Associates and Affiliates competing in lower-level tournaments.

Last month Sierra Leone were unable to take part in the ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers because they could not obtain visas from the Canadian consulate in time; last week Morocco failed to make it to Malawi for a World Cricket League commitment after falling foul of officialdom in Qatar.

There have been those who have heaped the blame on the ICC. It should, so their argument goes, ensure this does not happen and put pressure on the various countries hosting events to, in some way, bypass the usual rules and regulations. It’s almost as if cricket is a special case.

The same people who were lambasting the ICC for not ensuring Sierra Leone were able to play in Canada have been quiet over the fact that almost a dozen players from Afghanistan and Uganda took the opportunity of playing in Toronto to abscond and seek political asylum. All those individuals have done is ensure it will be even harder for players for some countries to take part in future events.

In fairness, the ICC has not helped itself in the past with its posturing when the British government barred Zimbabwe officials. But that was a bigger fish in a bigger pond.

The reality here is it is down to each country to ensure its own arrangements are in place. It cannot be the responsibility of the ICC to chase up every visa application and transit visa to make sure they are all in order. It is not - and should not be - the job of the ICC, or any sporting body, to tell countries who they should let in or not.

The boards get good money from the ICC and it is not unreasonable to expect those boards to show a higher degree of professionalism in the way they handle things. Too often, sides are selected at the last minute, paperwork is left until far too late in the day, and officials are happy to heap the blame on embassies and consulates.

I chased up one such instance not too long ago where a board was making a great song and dance about visa delays meaning it was shut out of an event. It turned out that it had spoken to the embassy months before the event and been given clear guidelines, including the key one that it needed 14 working days for visas to be processed. In the event, the applications - more than half of which were wrongly completed - were submitted five days before they were needed. There are two sides to every story.

In short, some boards need to be more professional and to take responsibility for their own affairs. Most manage it quietly and efficiently. It is not for the ICC to mollycoddle the few who can’t get their acts together. Martin Williamson

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by BAB on (October 9, 2009, 16:44 GMT)

Roland put it nicely. ICC should play its role as a big brother rather than follow the smell of the money? as it has been the case recently. Once the visas are obtained then the respective Board should be made responsible and if the incident like Afghanistana nd Ugada occurs then their Board should be punished heavily so it does not happen again. It is also very crucial to choose a place where people and sport is welcome equally. ICC should solve the problem rather than passing the buck on someone else.

Posted by roland ilube on (October 6, 2009, 6:54 GMT)

There are indeed (at least) two sides to every story. One side that I have heard in recent times is the one that Martin promotes here, i.e. it is all the fault of the incompetent boards and if only they weren't such a bunch of halfwits these things would never happen. That in my view is as simplistic and unhelpful as the one that goes, it is all the ICC's fault and they should sort visas out for everybody, which is also nonsense. What is irrefutable is that this is an issue which is having a negative effect on ICC organised tournaments. If I was in an organisation where extraneous factors were messing up my business, I would not just throw my hands up and say, "oh well, it is somebody else's fault" I would try and get to the root of the problems and see how I can help sort them out. That may mean looking at where certain tournaments are held, or being more involved in countries' tournament preparations. To do nothing would be an abdication of responsibility by the ICC in my opinion

Posted by Nat on (October 6, 2009, 5:47 GMT)

While the ICC is not responsible for the teams problems with getting visas, it should take into consideration visa issues when it decides on where to host events. Also the hosting board should have a responsibility to assist the visting boards in making sure that they understand the requirements. It is pathetic when teams are unable to attend major events because they can't get visas.

Posted by colin macbeth on (October 5, 2009, 11:07 GMT)

You make a strong point, and it goes without saying that the behaviour of the Afghanistani and Ugandan players in Canada has been reprehensible. It is a huge shame because this reflects badly on both those countries' cricket associations and their officials and, alas, on the ICC as a whole when, as you point out, it may in the long run be no fault of theirs.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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