Full Members opposed 10-team World Cup - Lorgat
Click to read the full interview that includes Lorgat's comments on the World Test Championship and the battle against corruption in cricket.
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC CEO, has said the 10 Full Members were unwilling to go through a qualification system for the 50-over World Cup, blocking plans for a 10-team event in 2015. "The main objection was that a 10-team event required Full Members to qualify," Lorgat told ESPNcricinfo.
He said Australia, New Zealand and England had initially supported a 10-team event with qualification but, following strong protests from the Associates, it was decided unanimously to do away with the idea for the next edition.
The ICC, before its annual conference in Hong Kong in June, had agreed at a meeting in April, to stick to just 10 teams in the 2015 World Cup but at Hong Kong, the ICC and its board members agreed to a 14-team tournament, preceded by a qualifying league for the Associate teams.
"Their belief was that there was a long-standing expectation that Full Members automatically play in the World Cup and therefore needed sufficient notice before we can change this practice. This is why the 10-team World Cup will start from 2019," Lorgat said.
However, Lorgat insisted a 10-team World Cup was the way forward. "I still believe that a 10-team World Cup on a qualification basis for all members would be a better event. This was part of the proposals to strategically restructure international cricket and was designed to protect and promote all three formats."
During his tenure as the CEO of the ICC, Lorgat faced many challenges. Among them was convincing the members of the ICC to institute the World Test Championship. Lorgat, who said earlier this month that the Test Championship will not be held before 2017, had strongly supported the idea of having a three-year qualification process during which all ten teams played each other, before the top four participated in a play-off. The Test Championship was meant to replace the Champions Trophy, the ICC's other 50-over event. However, monetary concerns expressed by ICC's broadcasting partner ESPN STAR Sports*, who have an agreement with the governing body until 2015, presented an obstacle. It did not help that the ten Full Members, once again, did not come out in support.
"A balanced mindset would have been a lot better," Lorgat said when asked if the members could have looked beyond short-term monetary gains. "Money is clearly an important factor but it should not be the only factor. We looked at different models of evaluating the revenue implications but the fact of the matter is that the value of an inaugural Test Championship comprising four teams and fewer matches is not viewed commercially the same as the Champions Trophy comprising eight teams."
Lorgat said the ICC had thought about renegotiating the broadcasting deal wherein they would pay ESPN STAR Sports the money it owed for the Champions Trophy as a measure to go all-out in staging the Test Championships, but found no support from the ICC board. "This was considered but not supported by the ICC Board and the Chief Executives Committee."
Evidently the ICC executive, of which Lorgat was the head, had limited powers and could not quell the might of the board members. "It is not ideal when you are not sufficiently empowered to undertake or implement what you know is correct and must be done. But I understood that when I entered the ICC and it is why the ICC Board rather than the executive would be held accountable for the future of the game."
The spot-fixing scandal during the Lord's Test between England and Pakistan in 2010 was another major challenge. An ICC tribunal found Pakistan's Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir guilty of spot fixing and banned them for various durations before they were sentenced to imprisonment after a separate trial at the Southwark Crown Court. The scandal raised questions about the ability of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit to fight corruption and prompted calls for the ICC to invest in sting operations to tackle fixing.
Lorgat, however, said the ACSU's jurisdiction did not allow it to conduct sting operations. "We cannot carry out sting operations or arrest people or seize property. That is not within our remit or powers. This was made clear by the Members when the ACSU was established.
"Corruption is a serious challenge and we must not be complacent but remain vigilant to combat this menace."
*ESPN STAR Sports is a 50:50 joint venture between Walt Disney (ESPN, Inc.), the parent company of ESPNcricinfo, and News Corporation Limited (STAR)
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo