ICC news February 2, 2012

Woolf report looks to shake up old boys' club

ESPNcricinfo staff

The Woolf report can be read in full here

The ICC's independent governance review, headed by Lord Woolf, has called for sweeping changes in the administration of cricket and the functioning of its governing body. It starts with a restructuring of the ICC's executive board to make it more independent and less dominated by the bigger countries and also recommends a re-examination of the rights and benefits of the Test-playing Full Member nations, calling for measures to increase transparency in dealings by the ICC and its members.

The review looks at cricket's growth over the past decade and the effect of that growth on the ICC and the various member nations, noting the perception that the bigger nations look after their own interests and not those of the game per se. "The ICC reacts as though it is primarily a Members club," the review notes; "its interest in enhancing the global development of the game is secondary."

Much of its vision of a revamped ICC is aimed at redressing this imbalance between the cricket-playing nations. The most important recommendation concerns revamping the ICC's executive board, its top decision-making body, to reduce the numerical strength of the Full Members and to offset their influence by bringing in independent directors, in keeping with best corporate governance practices.

The board currently comprises the heads of all Full Member nations, three representatives from the Associates and Affiliates and the ICC's president, vice-president and chief executive. Woolf's plan incorporates five independent directors - three from within the game and two from outside to bring in diversity of opinion and experience - with voting rights and the additional stipulation that they should not be in a minority. It suggests that the Full Member nations eventually have four representatives, and the Associates two, with the chairman, president and chief executive making up the desired dozen.

It also suggests that an ICC director should not concurrently hold any leadership or executive post with their home boards. For example, N Srinivasan is currently both an ICC director and president of the Indian board but, if the recommendations are accepted, he can't retain both posts. As for independent directors, they must not have not recently held positions of authority on any member board nor any commercial body that has had significant contractual relationships with the ICC.

The suggestions of the review are not binding on the ICC, which will examine it at the next Board meeting in April. On Wednesday the ICC had announced its plan to split the post of president into a ceremonial and a governance role, stating that the decision had been in agreement with two of the Woolf report's 65 recommendations.

The report also asked for greater opportunities for non-Test playing countries to compete against the top nations and an increased say for them in the administration of the game.

It recommended that the ICC do away with the present membership system of Full Members (the Test-playing countries), Associates (countries where cricket is firmly established and organised, such as Ireland etc) and Affiliates (countries where the game is played in accordance with the Laws of cricket, such as Bhutan etc), and instead have two clear membership classes: the Full Members and Associates.

It has asked that the ICC adopt the principle of one Board member, one vote. Under the ICC's current voting pattern in the full council, Full Member nations and the 35 Associates have one vote each, while the 60 Affiliates are split into groups of twelve, each of which has a single collective vote, adding up to a total of five. For a special resolution to change the ICC Constitution the requirement is for the support of eight Full Members and 38 out of 50 of the full council.

In another recommendation, the Woolf report asks for the current number of Full Members be "reviewed" in order to "open up the full membership more widely." It suggests that Test status "should not be a requirement of full member status." It says that the full member "class" should include Test playing nations "together with other high-performing (but not Test playing) members."

Being granted Full Membership gives a country greater access to the ICC's funds and greater voting power in the governing body's chief executive's committee as well as the full council.

The Associates mostly get their chances to play Test countries at ICC tournaments such as the World Cup and the World Twenty20 but the report called for the FTP to be modified to provide Associates more matches against the big boys outside these global events.

The final report of the Woolf review was presented to the ICC Executive Board on Tuesday and released to the public on Thursday. In preparing the report, Lord Woolf was assisted by Justice Mukul Mudgal, former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and by consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

The report was written after interviews with various stakeholders, including the ICC board, the chief executives' committee, heads of the national cricket bodies, players' associations, former heads of the ICC and journalists.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nihal on February 3, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    Hope the ICC takes the report in a positive manner and take the steps necessary to establish themselves as suitable administrators of a truly global game. Time to shake up the old boys club.

  • Hritam on February 3, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    A brilliant result! Can't wait for April! If these changes are implemented, then it will be a watershed in the history of cricket. It will do a world of good to Associates/Affiliates. Looking forward to that day.

  • Hritam on February 3, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    @Gizza, this report clearly indicates that the top Associates get more of a say in the running of the game. This necessarily does not mean that they will be elevated to Test status. It tells the ICC to remove Test status as one of the "criterion" for Full Member status, as the current top associates will then have a better chance of preparing for Test cricket as a full member as it current has. For all those who speak of the dilution of Test cricket in these comments, I'd say that it has clearly stated that more full members would not necessarily mean more Test-playing nations. A democratic ICC would be a dream for the game. We just get the example of FIFA and football, where they are reaping the fruits of democracy. Really, this report is a major step forward.

  • Steve on February 3, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    would love to see an independant report into the BCCI...........please?

  • Manesh on February 3, 2012, 4:14 GMT

    @Baundele and all other India bashers, then why other boards begging for a tour from India??? Few examples : India played 30-40 ODIs aganist SL 1 yr back to help them reduce the loss...(but still they are not stable because of new stadiume constructions)...The English/Australian stadiums were full when India played against them even if India lost, but Pak-Eng test match played in front of empty gallery...and much exciting Aus tour of SA (tests) played in front of school kids with free pass (search the news in Cricinfo)...and Pak board looking for a series with India to get some cash...why this? Even if India is not doing well in the field they have the biggest number of viewers...and think what will happen to others if India not playing cricket...thats our strength...or just imagine why all cricket legends publish autobiography in India and trying to make issues over there book? was it for fun or a marketing strategy?

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    what a shame this won't be implemented.

  • Girik on February 3, 2012, 0:51 GMT

    The report doesn't make clear if "Full Member" means Test status or if it just means have stronger voting rights but not necessarily Test status. I would support the latter for a larger number of countries. Maybe around 15. With regards to the debate about cricket's financial dependence on India, I read somewhere (maybe on Cricinfo) that about 70% of the revenues in the cricket economy comes from the Indian market. And it not just the IPL. The tours of India and India's tours of other countries bring in the big dough. I don't think cricket will die without India but there will be big pay cuts for all cricketers across in the world. The salaries will probably go back to Kerry Packer levels which is enough to make a living but much less than rival sports which may become more of an incentive (in the non-subcontinent sports like football and rugby become far more attractive career-wise). I don't think it is as black and white as the comments here say it is.

  • Hira on February 3, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Zimbabwe and Bangladesh need to go back to being an associate team..they are atrocious in the field of play and there is hardly any improvement in their game despite their12 year test status and all the world class facilities that has been available to them..they need to forget chasing the top jobs in the ICC and focus on improving their cricket otherwise they're going keep making fool of themselves!

  • Philip on February 2, 2012, 23:48 GMT

    Full status for the successful minnows, long before they play a test? This all looks a bit too much like democracy, methinks. Can't see such a radical change happening. The big fish will likely have a different agenda. What is needed is public pressure. And for that to happen, people need to read and understand the implications of what's being proposed and then consider just what the future will be like for the minnows if this is not implemented now, then make an informed comment. So a little empathy might help for starters.

  • Nick on February 2, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    This is not groundbreaking stuff. Don't hold your breath. Nothing will happen. The conflicts are the backbone of the status quo and that will not change. The game must evolve. It is silly that Afghanistan v UAE is not considered an "international". What's the point? Cricket is the only sport in the world that does this. Why should countries have automatic qualification to the ODI or T20 world cup? It is a pretty straight forward exercise for the top 8 teams to qualify and the "Associates" cannot complain if they don't make it. The other option is to have a rest of the world team and do away with the distinction. This is not without precedent. The West Indies are not one country. Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, Tobago, etc would be "minnows" against Australia or India. But as West Indies they are a competitive team and were once world champions.

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