ICC news April 15, 2011

Speed backs independent commission proposal

Malcolm Speed, the former chief executive of the ICC, has added his voice to the call for world cricket to be run by an independent commission instead of the existing board structure. However, while he believes a governance model without vested interests would be good for the ICC, Speed does not anticipate such a move being made.

"I think an independent commission would be great, but I don't expect it to happen," Speed told ESPNcricinfo. "For it to happen, the member countries would have to vote for it, and I don't think they're going to give up their seat at the table.

"During my time there, there was a proposal that the board be restructured so that there be two boards, one as a smaller executive board and then the bigger board that included all the countries. That was fine until we started talking about who might be on it and who might not be on it, and it just disappeared off the agenda."

One of the problems caused by a structure in which member nations are guaranteed representation at board level is that the system can become too politicised. Speed said one of the major challenges for the ICC in future would be to ensure that India used its power at board level and its financial clout for the good of the game.

"I think the two big challenges are balancing the three forms of the game and accommodating India's position as the financial superpower of the game," Speed said. "It will be difficult. It will require goodwill on the part of the Indian administrators and the leaders from the other countries. From time to time, I think there will be disagreement which will require the leaders of the other countries to stand up to India from time to time."

But Speed said the idea that the ICC was often split along lines of geography or race was not correct. "That's sometimes overdone. From time to time countries would come together when they had a common view, but it wasn't as if there was a constant pairing of Asian countries and African countries all with the same view.

"Sometimes, for instance, Pakistan would take quite a different view from India on key issues. The sense of there being an Asian bloc that votes together on all issues certainly wasn't the case in my time."

Speed, who has recently released his book of memoirs, Sticky Wicket, said he remains philosophical about his being removed as chief executive after his refusal to back the board's position on Zimbabwe. Speed was sent on "gardening leave" for the final two months of his tenure after a board meeting in Bangalore, in April 2008, made it clear that he had lost the support of the majority of the ICC directors.

In the book, Speed recounts the events that led to his departure from the ICC, which came after the board considered a KPMG audit of Zimbabwe Cricket's finances. Speed writes that the audit found Zimbabwe Cricket's financial records had been falsified for the 2005 financial year, but the board ignored a recommendation from its own audit committee to have the matter referred to the ICC's ethics officer.

"I asked for my disagreement to be minuted ... I felt ill. The whole issue had been swept under the carpet," Speed wrote of the meeting, which took place in Dubai in March 2008. He added that some members of the board, including the then vice-president David Morgan and New Zealand's Sir John Anderson, had also agreed that the issue be referred to the ethics officer.

However, the board decided against that course of action, and Speed declined to attend the press conference that followed the meeting, where he and the ICC president Ray Mali had been scheduled to speak to the media. A month later, Morgan and Speed negotiated the terms of Speed's departure from the ICC.

"I'm philosophical. I think I was philosophical at the time. It's an occupational hazard," Speed said this week. "It wasn't surprising. I thought once I'd refused to go to the press conference there was a risk I'd be asked to leave. It didn't surprise me, although I was surprised that it happened the way it did."

In his book, Speed describes several clashes he had with Mali, especially over Zimbabwe, and he said their relationship had "fractured completely" in November 2007. Speed writes that at the Bangalore meeting six months later - a meeting he did not attend - it became clear that Mali and other board members wanted him out.

Three years on from his departure, Speed said he was "very pleased" to observe from the outside the success of the 2011 World Cup, and that the game appeared to be "in an extremely healthy position".

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo