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June 9, 2013

ICC governance

A voice of dissent walks away

Paul Ford
Tim May's departure is a blow to transparency  © Getty Images
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"The game's in decay, and a large part of that has to be attributable to the top management, the governors of our sports, who seem to think they are above all rules that seem to apply to everyone else."
- Tim May, June 2013

It was disappointing to see an exasperated Tim May resign as head of FICA. May has been a voice of dissent - but often one of reason too - in the wilderness of cricket politics for more than a decade.

It was also sad to see him walk away not because his work was done but because he was tired of repeatedly ramming his dark curls against the brick wall of fish-head administrators' intransigence.

These words made for particularly grim reading: "Cricket increasingly seems to be pushing aside the principles of transparency, accountability, independence and upholding the best interests of the global game, in favour of a system that appears to operate through threats, intimidation and backroom deals."

Here May is bluntly referencing the raft of issues that have erupted around the game on the field, in nearby hotel rooms, local police stations and international cricket voting ballots.

May has been the key figure in the increased involvement of players in the way cricket is run around the world, and has fearlessly provided his constituents with a voice on the game's important issues - a perspective that has historically been absent, marginalised or ignored completely.

With a FICA badge on his tail-end batting helmet, he has waded into all sorts of issues across the spectrum, including player payments, the BCCI's corrosive influence, corruption slurs, the relentless meaninglessness of the international schedule's grind, tour safety, and the way the sport is governed.

Tim May is a massive fan of the Woolf report, the investigation into the way the ICC is run that emerged from the keyboards of jurist Lord Harry Woolf and risk expert Richard Sykes more than a year ago, and now growing cobwebs in the basement of the ICC head office in Dubai.

The report said a lot of things in its 60 pages, but these 21 words remain etched in my mind: "The game is too big and globally important to permit continuation of Full Member Boards using the ICC as a club."

Yet a club is exactly what it remains today. Since the report's damning indictment on the way the game is structured and its smorgasbord of recommended changes, exactly nothing has changed.

Talk of governance often invokes an effect in cricket fans similar to that produced by Valium, but when it's shambolic and the people in charge are making decisions to suit their own backyards rather than the good of the wider game, it impacts every fan and every player.

Tim May got that.

But FICA's cajoling for some action off the back of the Woolf report, even alongside some of the smaller cricketing nations, is not enough to be the catalyst for change at the ICC. The established power base of Full Members, or at least a subset of them, need to agitate too. Of course, turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

There is a New Zealand angle on this too.

A duo of Kiwis sits on the ICC board - accountants Chris Moller and Alan Isaac. Both are a part of the club's steering committee of head honchos, and have remained deathly silent in the wake of the Woolf Report and the recent voting "inconsistencies" that emerged around May's appointment to and dis-appointment from the ICC cricket committee. Heads down, thumbs down.

As two highly regarded businessmen in New Zealand, it is surprising neither has dared to voice a concern with the way things are run at the ICC at the moment, even as New Zealand Cricket stumbles through a governance revamp in its own backyard.

These are two blokes with stellar reputations and who most definitely know right from wrong, so we can only hope that behind the scenes they are agitating for change, and not sitting on their hands to preserve "power structures", "revenue streams" and "stakeholder relationships".

The price of doing nothing and accepting clubbiness, with all its backroom politicking, side deals and trade-offs, is already graffitied large on the next Kiwi cricket summer. The tour to God's Own by MSD and the Indian team is in the process of being rolled, bowled and rissoled despite the Future Tours Programme theoretically being set in stone. Chalk up another win to self-interest and parochialism.

Cricket has lost a tenacious advocate for transparency and change this week, and undoubtedly the game is weaker without May involved. He will be missed.

Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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Keywords: Administration

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by shillingsworth on (June 11, 2013, 18:38 GMT)

@Mahesh Verma - 'BCCI hating is all I see in this article'. I'm baffled why anyone should come to such a conclusion. The author doesn't mention the BCCI and his criticisms of the ICC are aimed squarely at the 'club'. For the avoidance of doubt that comprises all 10 full members who have collectively sidelined the Woolf report. Note that the author also mentions two gentlemen from NZ and their less than glorious role in the governance saga. Try concentrating on the actual article rather than tedious national point scoring.

Posted by cricket-india on (June 10, 2013, 20:42 GMT)

may is no more a 'current players representative' than kumble, shastri strauss etc are in the icc. he may have been a good fighter and he did take up some relevant issues for the players but one always felt the fica was trying too hard to encourage players to turn mercenary. I mean the respective cricket boards identify players and have them play tests, ODIs etc and then if the players want T20 megabucks and go league-chasing around the world putting club over country, it's not condonable. fica was the one organization that appeared to be behind this trend. there's no point having a current player as 'current player representative' in the icc as the said player won't be available for meetings anyway; atleast have a former player all (or most) boards can agree on. as others have said here, I didn't hear any bytes out of may during the gayle issue, and it's not clear to this day what irregularities happened to oust may; apart from lobbying, that is.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (June 10, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

The number of articles mourning Tim Mays departure from FICA is quite overwhelming. Surprisingly, being an Indian cricket fan, I have no clue what Tim May has actually done or achieved. Would someone from his vast fan club care to elaborate? Besides, in stead of snide remarks on the "irregularity" of the election that May lost, it would be nice if someone actually notes down the actual facts of why it is suspicious, irregular and objectionable.

Posted by Harmony111 on (June 9, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

Don't worry a bit Mahesh Verma, the huge popularity of Tim May is there for all of us to see. I have seen a huge number of article on the exit of Tim May and not one of them have actually cared to mention what exactly the body of work of Tim May looks like.

Btw are you not overwhelmed by the sheer number of comments from inconsolable supporters of Tim May? It touched me for sure.

Posted by   on (June 9, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

BCCI hating is all i see in this article, I guess England and Australia supremacy is what many people want as it was from 1909-1995. But you don't always get what you want, India will be the cricket powerhouse atleast from another two decades, learn to deal with it!!

Also, Tim May has an ego the size of an elephant. In any election there are lobbies and everyone wants their representative to win. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan is a former cricketer and has every right to be on that panel. Also, India and other subcontinental teams will any day prefer Laxman over Tim.

Regarding West Indies, well Tim May did nothing for WI players during the players vs Admin fiasco or Gayle issues, so why should they vote for him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Ford
Paul Ford (aka Paul Holden) is a co-founder of the beloved Beige Brigade, the patriotic and long suffering Kiwi supporters' cult that is a bastion of things brown, tan, tongue-in-cheek and tenuously cricket-related. Paul lives in Wellington, somewhere between the Basin Reserve and Karori Park, and his favourite shot is the front-foot pull. @beigebrigade

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