India shot down Test championship - WICB chief
Julian Hunte, the West Indies board president, has said that the Indian cricket board shot down a proposal mooted by the ICC to organise Test cricket around the four-year Test championship cycle.
Hunte's revelation - the first official disclosure by an ICC board member following reports that the Test championship plan had faded - came in his report at the annual general meeting of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) this month.
"Initially, the ICC attempted to change the structure of the FTP beginning from 2012 in which international cricket would have more content and would play more as a Super League with a 4-year structure resulting in a World Cricket Championship [but this] failed when the BCCI rejected that proposal," Hunte said. "This meant a return to the old practice of full members agreeing to a schedule of tours, which in effect places the power in the hands of the four biggest commercially valued members."
Hunte does not mention who those four are, but it is common knowledge that the boards of India, England, Australia and South Africa enjoy a dominating presence in the ICC boardroom. India earns a bulk of its revenue from TV rights and hence is not keen on a championship model that would lead to the setting up of a common broadcast cash pot. It has, consequently, successfully pushed for the existing model, where members arrive at bilateral agreements with the danger of those at the bottom of the table being marginalised.
The post-2012 FTP is currently being finalised by the ICC, and Hunte said that the WICB "will seek to ensure that it is not disadvantaged" in the new schedule.
Hunte also claimed, in a section of the report that deals with IPL, that some ICC full members remain suspicious of the motives of private promoters in the game, and concluded by saying that world cricket is at the crossroads and much depends on decisions that will be taken by the ICC.
Hunte's report deals extensively with the WICB's dispute with its players that forced West Indies to name a second-string squad for the series against Bangladesh and the forthcoming Champions Trophy. But those comments are on expected and previously stated lines and Hunte blames the players for choosing not to represent the team and showing the "highest form of disregard and disdain for West Indies cricket". What is surprising, though, is that the document, which is essentially a report on West Indies cricket, contains significant comments on the FTP and IPL.
He lists a set of concerns related to the rise of Twenty20 cricket while also admitting that players have "embraced" the BCCI's IPL with its auctions and high-profile owners.
"The emergence of private promoters in cricket has been much debated and some Full Member countries retain their inherent suspicion of the real objectives of such promoters. The ICC has drawn the line in relation to other leagues such the as ICL, which are not recognised by their home boards. Conversely, decision-making at the ICC affecting the IPL is often seemingly under the influence of some Full Members. The WICB remains convinced that Full Members should in some way benefit financially from the IPL and expect to see a general tightening up with respect to the issuance of Non-Objection Certificates. With many challenges to be faced and overcome, the future of world cricket is now at the crossroads and much depends on the decisions which will have to be taken by ICC in the near future."
Hunte's concerns about the IPL are not surprising given that one of the roadblocks in the dispute between the West Indies board and players is the question of participation in the IPL. Many of the West Indies players, including Chris Gayle, had wanted to be part of this year's IPL but were forced to fly to England midway to take part in a Test series that they claimed was arranged without obtaining prior consent from their association.
The IPL - which comes under the BCCI - has since clarified that players who have retired and even those not on central contracts with their national boards need to get a two-year NOC from their boards to be eligible for the IPL. The Champions League Twenty20, of which the BCCI is a founding partner, has also invited Trinidad and Tobago, the West Indies' domestic toppers in the format, to participate in the tournament starting October 8 with total prize money of $6 million and a guaranteed fee of $500,000, apart from an unspecified payment for the respective national boards.
Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo