ICC Future Tours Programme October 7, 2009

FICA rejects post-2012 draft


In its strongest indictment yet of the manner in which cricket is being run by the ICC, the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) - the players' lobby group - has rejected the draft of the post-2012 Future Tours Programme (FTP) that was approved in principle on Tuesday by the governing body's executive board, the game's apex decision-making body. It has, instead, sent the ICC a series of counter-proposals including the setting up of annual Test and ODI championships and allotting official windows to Twenty20 tournaments like the IPL and Champions League Twenty20.

FICA CEO Tim May said the ICC's proposed international schedule is merely an extension of the existing format that does not address changes in the game and diminishes its value. "The ICC's draft is just a continuation of the ad-hoc bilateral series that we have seen going on for 100 years," May told Cricinfo. "The ICC draft does not address an increasingly changing cricket landscape, which demands considerations of changing priorities of players and broadcasters and the increasing need for context, not volume."

FICA's decision to reject the post-2012 FTP draft was unanimous, May said, and the alternate proposals were finalized at the federation's annual meeting in Johannesburg on October 1-2. "FICA have supplied the feedback to the ICC and await their consideration of the matter," May said.

While the ICC admits that FICA is a key stakeholder in the game and has given the federation a seat on its cricket committee, it is not bound by law to accept any of its proposals. In fact, May admits that he would not be surprised if the ICC board rejects these proposals, but he also warns that in such a scenario "the natural forces will take effect."

"More and more players will follow Andrew Flintoff by retiring prematurely from one or all forms of international cricket," May said. "The grind of the present international calendar just can't exist with the attraction of shorter-duration, less physical, better-remunerated T20 leagues. International cricket will no longer be the best versus the best. Crowds will diminish, commercial rights will reduce, and international cricket will be very much an inferior product."

If this happens, May said, the ICC will have to accept the blame. "They will have no one to blame but themselves. It won't be the first business to be destroyed by failing to recognise a changing landscape."

The ICC will find it difficult to reject in toto FICA's proposals because the federation comprises representatives of powerful players' associations from Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies, who are also members of the ICC Board. These players' associations have a strong voice within their national governing structures on issues involving players' rights, scheduling and security.

Besides, some of FICA's ideas are shared by many officials within the ICC. For instance, Haroon Lorgat, the ICC CEO, has openly pushed for a world championship model to give meaning and context to every Test match. But the continuation of a bilateral series-based FTP is largely being driven by the powerful Indian board, whose players are not members of FICA (the Indian players' association is effectively defunct, anyway).

India and England have already rejected a Test championship model, which would have seen them dropping their substantial TV revenues in a common pool. Indian officials, for instance, say that they hope to earn more (around US$14-15 million) from each ODI against Australia in the seven-match series starting later this month than what they would get from the ICC pool for the entire 2011 World Cup.

Yet, there are moves within the ICC to adopt a simpler Test championship model to be held once in four years involving the top-four teams and based on bilateral series within the FTP but with a separate final and relegation match. But this concept has not been discussed at the highest level because the FTP is yet to be fully finalized; apparently, discussions are currently revolving around the schedule (venues, government sanctions and the like) of bilateral series between India and Pakistan, and England and Zimbabwe.

FICA, meanwhile, has a clear proposal on holding a Test championship, which includes the concept of collective bundling of rights and graded revenues (boards like the BCCI may get more because of the revenue they pull in). "The preference is for a Test championship over a short time-frame with preference for a one-year, two-division format involving a round-robin plus semi-finals plus final series," May said. "The divisions will be determined on a rotational basis, such that Test-playing countries would play each other at least once in every four-year cycle."

A strict adherence to the championship format with no other games, FICA believes, will also address the issue of the increasing volume of cricket being played. "The ICC should bundle the collective rights of the above series and distribution of revenues to members would be on a weighted basis," May said.

Against the backdrop of the debate over the future of ODIs, FICA has proposed a one-day championship as well. "One-day cricket desperately needs context - FICA believes an annual ODI Championship is vital," May said. "Also, a one-day series should precede not follow the corresponding Test series - it will then act as a better build-up or promotion for the Test series."

FICA has also asked the ICC to allott windows for IPL and Champions League T20. "It will be increasingly necessary to ensure that no scheduling conflicts occur with such leagues," May said. "Otherwise we expect a large number of players will retire prematurely from international cricket." The ICC's post-2012 schedule draft includes a window for the much-shorter Champions League Twenty20, which is being organised by India, Australia and South Africa, but not for the nearly two-month-long IPL, which involves about 80 foreign players.

Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on October 9, 2009, 23:59 GMT

    It's a good idea to have a test championship every year it will be like every other sports where there is a champion and the end of every year and will bring more meaning to every match. the IPL sould not be giving a window in the year because it is just a indian comp and only beifit india and to one of the comments that new zealand sould not play aginst top counties havin't seen aust v nz test which can be exciting because nz alawys give the aussie's a hard time when thay play each other

  • Sheraz on October 9, 2009, 2:08 GMT

    @fanofteamindia, why on earth do you think NZ/Pak matches against high ranking teams makes some ODIs boring. I guess you don't want India losing to Pakistan ever again and the best way you think is for them not to play India ever again, a truly absurd suggestion. But what you will do in ICC events you will have to play Pakistan and Pakistan record in ICC against is catching up with the overall record against India.

  • hayden on October 7, 2009, 22:58 GMT

    what difference does it make if ODIs are played before or after a test series? anyway i agree with tsss, why cant they just scrap the common revenue pool and go along with the rest of the idea? it is the most logical way of taking test cricket forward. not sure what may is getting at when he says each team plays each other once every 4 year cycle is that one test, one series, one home series, one away series???? each nation still needs 5-6 home tests a year, with mostly 2 teams touring for a 3 test series each. anything less than that is going to result in venues and people missing out on seeing their team play!

  • Faraaz on October 7, 2009, 22:46 GMT

    I like the idea of a Test championship, but it should be based on points accumulated every 2 years. However, they need to bring back World XI vs Test championship matches and they need to create an aura around the World XI team and give them time to face the test champions. The major reason for early retirements is lucrative T20 deals and fatigue issues. If ICC give sufficient breaks during the year then the games will be played at a higher intensity and probably would make it more entertaining.

    I am happy with T20 world cups and IPL etc, however they need to be played to promote cricket rather than make money.

    Domestic leagues should be promoted aswell. For example, indians playing in the IPL should have an aura about them. For example - Person A(famous bat in North India) vs Brett Lee..right now, no one knows this person A therefore doesn't care about the battle against international players. This could be applied to other domestic leagues for all the international countries.

  • Andrew on October 7, 2009, 21:32 GMT

    The FICA plan is seriously flawed if it expects bilaterals like the Ashes to be dropped in favour of a four-team annual championship. We should be investigating Martin Crowe's suggestion of a knockout tournament, although modified to be open to all Test playing countries including Zim and top Associates, every 2 yrs rather than annual, with bilaterals, ODIs and T20s incl World Cups, IPL etc fitted around it. The reality is that if international cricket lacks context, eventually the best players will take the IPL shilling - although as an Indian domestic comp, the IPL doesn't really hold any public interest outside India, even if another country hosts it. But it exists and should be catered for in a global schedule, otherwise it will become another World Series Cricket, setting itself up in opposition to ICC. And IPL will be even more difficult to negotiate and compromise with than Packer was, bcos BCCI is insatiable - Packer had a defined aim - to secure TV rights.

  • Ajay on October 7, 2009, 16:26 GMT

    I agree with the two division rotational format. I had proposed something similar to my friends when we were discussing the issue. It makes sense and provides much needed context. I have zero respect for BCCI, and so do many Indians like me. They can't hold the game to ransom for their personal gains. They only need to look at the dismal attendance for domestic Indian matches to know what Indians think of Indian players!! If not for international players IPL would be a flop. ICC should conduct a public poll/ survey in India asking people what they think about BCCI. They will at least be armed with something to put political pressure on BCCI then...use democracy to good effect!! Right now, BCCI is being an irrational negotiator, trying to maximize its personal payoffs without caring for what maximizes the overall payoff of the pool. The weighted revenue sharing model sounds like a viable solution to me.

  • Charindra on October 7, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    A test championship model is the only way teams like Sri Lanka will ever get a fair number of matches against quality opposition. Otherwise the big four will keep playing against each other while occassionally throwing SL a bone, although talent wise SL belongs in the top 3 teams at least, along with Australia, South Africa and India.

  • Daniel on October 7, 2009, 15:12 GMT

    The solution to this si simple: get rid of the IPL, the Champions League and Twenty20 altogether. Test cricket has been fine the way it is for 130 years, and does not need to change. If players don't like it, then they should not have become cricketers in the first place.

  • Anay on October 7, 2009, 15:10 GMT

    The IPL is too long as of now.If it does shorten,the ICC can take steps to include it in the FTP.But at the same time,care should be taken that other boards do not come up with their own leagues which will definitely lead to more confusion.

  • Muqit on October 7, 2009, 14:29 GMT

    I think there is a solution to all the problems,only thing that is needed is ICC to think out of the box.Every year they can have a mandatory world test championship,ODI championship n world t20.The test championship must be held in 10weeks,ODI championship in 4 weeks n 2weeks of worldt20.Thats it,it should be the amount of mandatory international cricket each team must play per year.Out of 52 all these 3 events must take only 16weeks leaving 36weeks.And during the remaining 36weeks the boards can arrange their T20leagues as well as they will get time to play some commercially lucrative bilateral series such as indo-pak odi series, ashes etc.However, no bi-lateral series should be mandatory for boards but if any two cricket boards arranges a bilateral series during the 36 weeks free time then ICC should approve them. As a result all the cricket boards n ICC will make a lot of money together in 3 special events, n BCCI will have 36 weeks to do anything that maximizes their profit.

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