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.

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