January 22, 2014

All hail cricket's bright future

There are advantages to the proposed restructuring of the ICC (and we're not talking only about savings on furniture)
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"I think we can conclude it's Misbah's fault, somehow" © Pakistan Cricket Board

As any general will tell you, staging a coup is a tricky business. It's one of the five most stressful things a human being can do, along with moving house, getting a divorce, planning a dinner party for people you don't really like but who, for some reason or other, you have no choice but to try to impress, and supporting Worcestershire.

First, there's the invites to consider. You've got to invite enough people to make it a proper coup - there's nothing worse than turning up in your tank to find it's just you, your cousin, and your old friend from school who was between jobs. Then there's the logistics of the thing: who has to be where at what time, whose job is it to blow up the airfield, who's on assassination duty, who's bringing the snacks and so on.

So no one undertakes a coup lightly, even an administrative coup, like the one underway at the ICC. As we speak, BCCI tanks are parked on the finely manicured lawns of ICC HQ, a crack commando unit of ECB bureaucrats has infiltrated the building and is planting booby traps in David Richardson's spreadsheets, and James Sutherland's grandmother has embroidered a new post-coup ICC flag, featuring three lions squabbling with a kangaroo inside a giant blue circle.

All of this took a lot of planning, so it's rather disrespectful, not to say hurtful, that the efforts of these three boards should have been met with such criticism. Let's face it, cricket is in chaos. Right now, a dozen or so countries are collaborating to run it badly, so why not streamline the whole business and have just three countries run it badly? At least there'll be a saving on translators.

With the creation of the new Supreme High Cricket Command, the ICC will also save a considerable sum on upholstery costs and furniture polish, since only three chairs will be needed. Occasionally a representative of one of the minor cricket nations - such as South Africa - will be invited to attend board meetings, but they will be expected to provide their own chair, or preferably to sit quietly in the corner.

But the benefits that will accrue from this cricket coup go far beyond furniture rationalisation. With cricket's leading abbreviations firmly in control, the sport can enjoy a golden age of popularity in which the current ramshackle arrangement whereby most teams play most other teams fairly often will be swept away and replaced with the following:

1. A Premier Exclusive League, which may feature, for example, India, Australia and England. Critics have complained that there will be no relegation from this league, but they are wrong. Any of these teams could be relegated, if their countries are invaded and occupied by aliens or in the event of a unanimous vote to relegate by the Relegation Committee (made up of representatives from England, Australia, and India).

2. A Bitterly Resentful Reserve Section, including South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who will compete annually for the right to be denied access to the top division on the grounds that their crowds are too small, their players too ugly, their flags not appealing, or their accents too guttural.

3. An Utterly Obscure Charity League, featuring West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Guernsey U-19s, the cast of the musical Rent - currently performing at the Hippodrome, Hastings - and anyone else who can get a team together. This will help widen the base of international cricket, even though no one will ever watch any of the games and we probably won't write down the results.

With these changes in place, our sport can march boldly into a lucrative and successful future (unless you don't live in England, Australia or India, in which case I recommend you switch to a different, more popular and financially viable sport, such as crown-green bowling, politician-baiting or cockroach-racing).

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 25, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    Oh dear, the Empire Strikes Back!

    Not at all dissimilar to the way the Pakistan Board 'elects' new members. Get on the right side and you get to sit next to the Captain on the team bus. Get on the wrong side and you get to sit next to Afridi on the next bus out of town!

  • KingTarik on January 23, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    Cricket will be over as we know it. It will only played between the big three while the remaining countries now need another sport to shine at. Can't believe India is so self serving, power hungry, and greedy along with Aus and Eng too.

  • on January 23, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Now every country will play to trash India. Indians will watch and hope but will leave the sport after a while. Suddenly the world will be a better place and Australia and England who will be not easy to trash, will go join the ROW. Artificial pitches, better balls, grand stadiums and a super duper fast game will replace the current version. Yes the traditional matches will exist. India will crib as they will play a match against Argentina, Belgium Mexico and S Korea to try and qualify. If this sounds like Hockey - then it is. Learn your lesson. Don't kill the game.

  • on January 23, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    The point, for the morons on here who don't understand, is that the changes being proposed will actually be detrimental to England, Australia and India in the long run. It will weaken the other cricketing nations creating less competitive cricket which in turn will reduce the ability of the "big three" to generate tv and gate revenue. The idea that a sport like cricket can survive with just 3 strong sides competing is completely and utterly insane and the press coverage has been spot on by pointing this out. This is not business this is sports administration and the policies and frame works should be based on improving the global game not making money for an elite few.

  • on January 23, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    It's really sad and atrocious to give too much importance to only three nations, keeping other big playing nations like WI, SA, NZ, SL & Pak. at bay. It's not fair and may ruin the great game in the long run. Give equal status and importance to almost all cricket playing Nations for the good of the game. According to the Great legendary Sir Gary Sobers "Whichever Nation plays, the game should be the ultimate winner" like that all cricket playing Nations should be treated at par for the survival of the game. I hope, ICC will reconsider it's decision in the interest of the game.

  • on January 23, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    It's just not cricket :)

    ... Can't these three just rename cricket let the other boards carry on with status quo!

  • VisBal on January 23, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Salazar555: Test cricket at present is only profitable in exactly two countries, and one of them needs to import half of their playing XI. The remaining 8 countries only make up their finances from short form cricket. The reasons may vary from political disturbance to economics to population size to interest levels. However, that is how it is. Moreover, who can match the Barmy Army, who actually travel with the team to watch Test matches? The solution to Test cricket should reside in Test cricket, not in ostracizing the teams that have smaller support bases and ar still trying to compete at the highest level. The solution probably lies in more Tests and A Tours at the Board level and more cricketing scholarships at the developmental level. Just a thought, where would Indian cricket be today without the MRF Pace Foundation and the India-Australia Young Player Scholarship?

  • YS_USA on January 23, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    Can anybody tell us how much WI and NZ made from the WI tour of NZ and how much India and NZ are making from the tour of India to NZ?

  • chechong0114 on January 23, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    The sport of cricket has been around since the 18th century and yet with all its history it still has not been able to make an impact in any of the wealthy economies of the world. Apart from Australia, England and maybe India the game has done little to nothing to make a mark in developing wealthy countries like China, USA, Japan etc. Just look at the latest nations that have gained ICC status in the sport and u get a very clear image of how big a failure the ICC has been as a body and how poorly they are at promoting and commercialise the sport. Afghanistan, Kenya, The Netherlands, what kind of economy do these nations have to make a real mark on the sport and probably turn over any kind of financial profit that will assure their sustainability for the future years to come. The thinking behind the sport is full of such confusing, and I believe it has reached its boiling point to where the ICC as a body is just ready to throw in the towel hence the reason for the current decision.

  • on January 23, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    I really don't understand why so many are cribbing about this.Its stands to reason that the three main boards that generate the most income should have the major control.Stop cribbing.Grin and put up with it or walk out.All animals are equal,but some animals are more equal...ha ha ha..that's life!!!

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 25, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    Oh dear, the Empire Strikes Back!

    Not at all dissimilar to the way the Pakistan Board 'elects' new members. Get on the right side and you get to sit next to the Captain on the team bus. Get on the wrong side and you get to sit next to Afridi on the next bus out of town!

  • KingTarik on January 23, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    Cricket will be over as we know it. It will only played between the big three while the remaining countries now need another sport to shine at. Can't believe India is so self serving, power hungry, and greedy along with Aus and Eng too.

  • on January 23, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Now every country will play to trash India. Indians will watch and hope but will leave the sport after a while. Suddenly the world will be a better place and Australia and England who will be not easy to trash, will go join the ROW. Artificial pitches, better balls, grand stadiums and a super duper fast game will replace the current version. Yes the traditional matches will exist. India will crib as they will play a match against Argentina, Belgium Mexico and S Korea to try and qualify. If this sounds like Hockey - then it is. Learn your lesson. Don't kill the game.

  • on January 23, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    The point, for the morons on here who don't understand, is that the changes being proposed will actually be detrimental to England, Australia and India in the long run. It will weaken the other cricketing nations creating less competitive cricket which in turn will reduce the ability of the "big three" to generate tv and gate revenue. The idea that a sport like cricket can survive with just 3 strong sides competing is completely and utterly insane and the press coverage has been spot on by pointing this out. This is not business this is sports administration and the policies and frame works should be based on improving the global game not making money for an elite few.

  • on January 23, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    It's really sad and atrocious to give too much importance to only three nations, keeping other big playing nations like WI, SA, NZ, SL & Pak. at bay. It's not fair and may ruin the great game in the long run. Give equal status and importance to almost all cricket playing Nations for the good of the game. According to the Great legendary Sir Gary Sobers "Whichever Nation plays, the game should be the ultimate winner" like that all cricket playing Nations should be treated at par for the survival of the game. I hope, ICC will reconsider it's decision in the interest of the game.

  • on January 23, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    It's just not cricket :)

    ... Can't these three just rename cricket let the other boards carry on with status quo!

  • VisBal on January 23, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Salazar555: Test cricket at present is only profitable in exactly two countries, and one of them needs to import half of their playing XI. The remaining 8 countries only make up their finances from short form cricket. The reasons may vary from political disturbance to economics to population size to interest levels. However, that is how it is. Moreover, who can match the Barmy Army, who actually travel with the team to watch Test matches? The solution to Test cricket should reside in Test cricket, not in ostracizing the teams that have smaller support bases and ar still trying to compete at the highest level. The solution probably lies in more Tests and A Tours at the Board level and more cricketing scholarships at the developmental level. Just a thought, where would Indian cricket be today without the MRF Pace Foundation and the India-Australia Young Player Scholarship?

  • YS_USA on January 23, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    Can anybody tell us how much WI and NZ made from the WI tour of NZ and how much India and NZ are making from the tour of India to NZ?

  • chechong0114 on January 23, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    The sport of cricket has been around since the 18th century and yet with all its history it still has not been able to make an impact in any of the wealthy economies of the world. Apart from Australia, England and maybe India the game has done little to nothing to make a mark in developing wealthy countries like China, USA, Japan etc. Just look at the latest nations that have gained ICC status in the sport and u get a very clear image of how big a failure the ICC has been as a body and how poorly they are at promoting and commercialise the sport. Afghanistan, Kenya, The Netherlands, what kind of economy do these nations have to make a real mark on the sport and probably turn over any kind of financial profit that will assure their sustainability for the future years to come. The thinking behind the sport is full of such confusing, and I believe it has reached its boiling point to where the ICC as a body is just ready to throw in the towel hence the reason for the current decision.

  • on January 23, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    I really don't understand why so many are cribbing about this.Its stands to reason that the three main boards that generate the most income should have the major control.Stop cribbing.Grin and put up with it or walk out.All animals are equal,but some animals are more equal...ha ha ha..that's life!!!

  • Testcricketistop on January 23, 2014, 0:39 GMT

    Great satire, it is so good in fact, you almost convinced me, OK, not really.

  • Marcus50 on January 23, 2014, 0:09 GMT

    So Australia, India and England want to take control of the ICC, decide who gets to play who and take a much greater share of all cricket revenues on the basis that all other cricket nations should "Trust us we will look after your interests as well nod nod wink wink"

    Sounds like an absolutely stunning solution. The Board of New Zealand cricket is simply deluded if it thinks there is any benefit in this proposal. Trying to limit the damage with some short term guarantees over tours and games is as myopic as you could get.

    International Cricket is finished if this proposal proceeds

  • aztecs on January 22, 2014, 23:56 GMT

    I cant wait to watch India play England again last time it was so much fun and the time before oh and the time before. Oh did i say the time before that too or am i mistaking it for the ashes..oh btw did they find the urn that contained the ashes or is it in India somewhere by mistake?

  • i_amVIVA on January 22, 2014, 22:43 GMT

    And Pak is silent for, most likely, being assured by the N3 (N for nasty) the guaranty to remove its current boycott of cricket in their land once they are one of 7 required votes of the current coup.... go, figure the politics...

  • Iddo555 on January 22, 2014, 20:18 GMT

    I'm going to play devil's advocate and say a lot of countries don't want to play test cricket, they don't make money out it, they would rather have a couple more one day or 20/20 games instead. The players aren't interested, players from West indies, new zealand and sri lanka would much prefer to play in the IPL for the money than represent their country in a test match.

    You know all this because it has been that way for some time. So why the big fuss now? England and Oz don't want to play Bangladesh or Zimbabwe in front of no one while making no money. Like it or not, cricket is a business and it needs to make money the same as football.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on January 22, 2014, 19:13 GMT

    "A Bitterly Resentful Reserve Section, including South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who will compete annually for the right to be denied access to the top division on the grounds that their crowds are too small, their players too ugly, their flags not appealing, or their accents too guttural. " hahahahahahaha....LMAO!!!!!

  • PaulDev on January 22, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    Brilliant Andrew. Here's a scary thought: what happens if they get away with this restructure? Bring back the MCC.

  • ferngully on January 22, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    The caption on the photo - "I think we can conclude it's Misbah's fault, somehow."

    the hardest i have laughed in days, keep it up andrew.

  • vallavarayar on January 22, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    Gotta love Hughes, in a platonic sense of course. But when get right to it, don't we have just one captain and one vice captain In a team of eleven? Similarly, we just need just two countries to lead us all cricket lovers. I prefer the Swiss and the Belgians.

  • lolruman on January 22, 2014, 15:15 GMT

    Brilliant article, a big step to destroy cricket.

  • on January 22, 2014, 12:56 GMT

    How come new zealand is supporting the three stooges!! They are on their way of becoming reptile soon. World cricket already lost its glamor because of the over exposure of cricket, now ICC (india australia england) are planning to kick cricket to garbage

  • on January 22, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    If this happens, cricket will loose its appeal. India-England, India - Aus, Aus- England ! That's all about cricket? Can not be! Its the time to globalize this, giving more and more teams the chance to play! Not the time to divide them and destroy the game forever for the sake of money! BCCI, please dont do this!!

  • py0alb on January 22, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    In England our appetite for playing India and Australia is ALREADY starting to lack. For the first summer in 20 years I am not planning to buy any test cricket because I only just watched us thrash India a couple of years ago and its starting to feel uncomfortably like bullying now. What is it next year? Something different perhaps? Oh no, its the bloody Ashes AGAIN.

    See you back at a Test ground some time in 2016.

  • ReverseSweepRhino on January 22, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    "Unless you don't live in England, Australia or India, in which case I recommend you switch to a different, more popular and financially viable sport, such as crown-green bowling, politician-baiting or cockroach-racing." I'm betting on Jamaica to win the inaugural Cockroach Racing World Championships (I hear they have a squad that managed to survive Gayle swinging his bat around and Usain Bolt's stomping...)

  • SagirParkar on January 22, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    brilliant one Andrew.. once again you really bring out good humour and satire..

    the concept of turning up in one's tank to find one's cousin and an old school friend as the only other attendees was hilarious !

    keep up the good work !

  • Rawal on January 22, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Man your articles are the best!

  • Udendra on January 22, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Damn good hilarious article! Btw, NZC will be "bringing the snacks" to put it that way :D

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Udendra on January 22, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Damn good hilarious article! Btw, NZC will be "bringing the snacks" to put it that way :D

  • Rawal on January 22, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Man your articles are the best!

  • SagirParkar on January 22, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    brilliant one Andrew.. once again you really bring out good humour and satire..

    the concept of turning up in one's tank to find one's cousin and an old school friend as the only other attendees was hilarious !

    keep up the good work !

  • ReverseSweepRhino on January 22, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    "Unless you don't live in England, Australia or India, in which case I recommend you switch to a different, more popular and financially viable sport, such as crown-green bowling, politician-baiting or cockroach-racing." I'm betting on Jamaica to win the inaugural Cockroach Racing World Championships (I hear they have a squad that managed to survive Gayle swinging his bat around and Usain Bolt's stomping...)

  • py0alb on January 22, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    In England our appetite for playing India and Australia is ALREADY starting to lack. For the first summer in 20 years I am not planning to buy any test cricket because I only just watched us thrash India a couple of years ago and its starting to feel uncomfortably like bullying now. What is it next year? Something different perhaps? Oh no, its the bloody Ashes AGAIN.

    See you back at a Test ground some time in 2016.

  • on January 22, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    If this happens, cricket will loose its appeal. India-England, India - Aus, Aus- England ! That's all about cricket? Can not be! Its the time to globalize this, giving more and more teams the chance to play! Not the time to divide them and destroy the game forever for the sake of money! BCCI, please dont do this!!

  • on January 22, 2014, 12:56 GMT

    How come new zealand is supporting the three stooges!! They are on their way of becoming reptile soon. World cricket already lost its glamor because of the over exposure of cricket, now ICC (india australia england) are planning to kick cricket to garbage

  • lolruman on January 22, 2014, 15:15 GMT

    Brilliant article, a big step to destroy cricket.

  • vallavarayar on January 22, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    Gotta love Hughes, in a platonic sense of course. But when get right to it, don't we have just one captain and one vice captain In a team of eleven? Similarly, we just need just two countries to lead us all cricket lovers. I prefer the Swiss and the Belgians.

  • ferngully on January 22, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    The caption on the photo - "I think we can conclude it's Misbah's fault, somehow."

    the hardest i have laughed in days, keep it up andrew.