ICC exectuive board meeting, April 2012 April 15, 2012

Will ICC take first steps towards best governance?

The ICC's executive board meets in Dubai over Sunday and Monday to discuss, among other issues, the Woolf review, the vice-presidential nomination and the next round of ICC events between 2015 and 2023

When the ICC's executive board meets in Dubai over Sunday and Monday, the main item on their agenda will be the 65 recommendations made public in February following the independent governance review, headed by Lord Woolf.

The Woolf review called for sweeping changes in the global administration of cricket and the administration of the ICC, which begins with the executive board itself. It would be unrealistic to expect the board, made up of the heads of the ten Full Members plus three Associate representatives, to give a green light to its own fairly substantial demolition as suggested by Woolf.

Were the ICC's decisions not largely dependent on power equations and political bargaining, the list of items on the board's April agenda would even appear ho-hum. For now, each item contains both minefield and bargaining chip.

Woolf report recommendations apart, the agenda includes the vice-presidential nomination, suggestions regarding how the Twenty20 format should be handled, and the next round of ICC events between 2015 and 2023, including the World Test Championship.

Perhaps Woolf's most contentious recommendation, pertaining to the restructuring of the board, suggests the creation of new posts of independent directors in order to ensure that the board is less dominated by the "bigger" nations. A handful of the Full Members have already commented publicly on the report and made their stands clear. Cricket Australia and the PCB were measured in their comments, saying that it would be wrong to reject the report out of hand and that the ICC executive board should seek a consensus among cricket boards before deciding whether to implement it or not. The BCCI's working committee had rejected the key recommendations concerning the restructuring. The BCCI response to the report noted that their working committee was, "in particular not agreeable to the changes in the structure of the management of the ICC that had been proposed."

In all debates surrounding the ICC and its functioning, the BCCI's bargaining chip, often with smaller Full Member nations, usually rests with the individual country's engagements with the Indian cricket team. The more India tours there, the higher the earnings for the members boards from television rights. The more the tours, the more the revenue; a cold shoulder from India can translate into red on that national cricket board's balance sheet.

At this time, it is the Bangladesh Cricket Board that could do with some friends at the ICC executive board level. Together with Pakistan, it has nominated its CEO, Mustafa Kamal, for the role of vice-president - this means, if sanctioned, he will succeed Alan Isaac as president in 2014. It is believed that Pakistan's support for Kamal's nomination, however, was dependent on Bangladesh agreeing to tour Pakistan and breaking a three-year freeze on international cricket in the country. The ICC had refused to send its officials on that tour, which led to a growing reluctance by the BCB to commit to the tour.

Kamal's role as vice-president could also be affected by a Woolf recommendation stating that under its proposed new board structure, the ICC "consider the position and role, if any, of the ICC vice-president between 2012 and 2014." At the same time the BCB will also be looking for a new television rights partner, its contract with Indian broadcaster Nimbus TV having come to an end.

In this scenario, there could be a surprise ally for the BCB. Only recently it announced it had received reassurances from the BCCI that Bangladesh could be invited for their first full Test series in India since being granted Test status in 2000. This alliance between the BCCI and the BCB may only be fully explained after the board's decisions are announced on Monday.

The sole common ground shared by the ICC and the Woolf review is to be found in the ICC president's office. At its last executive board meeting in March, a month after the release of the Woolf Report, the board suggested re-defining the role of the president, scrapping its rotational appointment, making it a largely "ceremonial" position and creating a new one of chairman. This also happened to constitute two of the 65 recommendations of the Woolf report. Neither side though, clearly outlined the procedure for the election of the new, powerful chairman. In its only public comment on the Woolf report, the ECB had said it "welcomed" the creation of a new post of chairman and the reduction of the role of the president to a ceremonial one.

The major support for the Woolf report comes from the game's minor powers, the Associate nations. The review had recommended the re-examination of the rights and benefits of the Test-playing Full Member nations, a flexibility in the granting of Full Member status and increased transparency in the ICC and its members' dealings.

The Woolf review had advised against "cherry-picking" from among its suggestions, but this could in fact be the only way for the ICC's board to not only be progressive, but to also appear so.

On the sidelines of the board meeting, key officials of the PCB arrived early in Dubai to meet with the ICC legal team. The PCB is aiming to sort out issues pertaining to a proposed amendment to the ICC's constitution that would give it power to suspend a member if there is government interference in the running of the national cricket board. While Sri Lanka Cricket held its first election in seven years, the PCB is linked to the government with the country's president being its patron. As per its constitution, the PCB's chairman is appointed by the country's president without the conduct of any elections. Last June, the PCB had sent a legal notice to and threatened legal action against the ICC. That issue is yet to be resolved.

In the run-up to the meeting of the board, the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) said in a statement that the meeting would "test whether the directors of the board make decisions based on the greater interests of the game, or whether the directors vote on the basis of what is best for their country".

FICA's president, Tim May, said those who had rejected the major recommendations of the Woolf Report regarding restructuring of the board itself 'did not want to give up the right of voting for what is best for their country" and needed "a refresher course as to what purpose they are supposed to perform on the board". He said: "Their responsibility is clear - it is to make decisions based on the greater interests of the game, not the self-interests of the board members."

This meeting will be the first formal opportunity for the board, after the benefit of a month's deliberation, to give a definitive indication of its future course of action. Over the next two days, the ICC's most powerful body will give world cricket a clue as to whether it is willing to take the first step on the road map of best governance or whether that road map will actually end up as just a well-intentioned piece of paperwork.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jay on April 15, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    A lot of people here criticize the BCCI for nothing. They need to remember that world cricket is being held together by the BCCI and India's following of the sport. Without India, cricket would wither and die like the old British empire. It's an imperial sport after all. The ICC gets most of its funding and support from the BCCI. People should not forget that. My only anger towards the BCCI is that they are not supporting the use of DRS in test cricket. Technology should be embraced in the modern world. Coming back to test cricket, the ICC MUST review it's current scheduling and rankings system. If the current situation prevails for long then test cricket WILL die. T20s are the future and I will keep saying that. 50 over cricket will also disappear eventually. It all comes down to smart scheduling and marketing of test cricket. There MUST be a two tier system with 2 divisions of 5 teams each. Also, no more meaningless ODIs and T20s along with 2 test series. WAKE UP ICC !

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    People forget history. When the imperial cricket club made the choices for everyone, they still had back lash from public. However money and power go hand in hand and history is written by those who possess it the best.

    However, we have 3 nations vying to seek power - UK,Australia and India. The combined financial strength of UK and AUS is not good enough to over-ride India's strength.

    Let's hope and support India to make good choices in the interest of the game. Any over-reaction is against the natural flow and will be a repeat of history with futile attempts.

  • ajith on April 15, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    Yar Khan, you are wrong. It should ICC but in brackets Hypothicated to BCCI. After all the money comes from there, right? You would prefer India just hand over the dough and every one else spends it on what they like, right? Brilliant.

  • Shahid on April 15, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    ICC is known as Indian Cricket Council so ICC will be Indian Best Governace.

  • ian on April 15, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    @anuradha_d: There are agendas eminently worth driving! Votes for women; universal education for girls & boys; abolition of torture throughout the world; the ending of child labour, slavery.You can doubtless add to this list; there are so many issues that need the support of those who have a voice & the ability to articulate their thoughts. The world is a better place for disinterested agendas being driven by all legal means possible! Democratic processes that are not truly democratic are key to the arresting of change. If the rich & powerful remain in charge & refuse to yield to sane & logical argument, then expect strong dissent, even revolution! Only benevolent despotism, with its accompanying whiff of patronage, can it ward off! Cricket needs democratising within a structure that allows for change in an orderly manner. Turkeys can vote for Christmas when the world is becoming vegetarian! The status quo ill fits the world we should all want and work towards. Think again, pls!

  • V.L on April 15, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    I am surprised that the English and Aussie fans on this forum were not worried when they. They have destroyed the possibility of reverse swing and the art of spin in ODIs by having two new balls on the pretext of increasing the bowlers chances of picking up wickets. This when they are not at the helm. Next time an Englshman takes charge , spinners will most likely be an extinct species like dinosaurs. And they still have the cojones to say BCCI runs cricket. As for DRS, give me a break. We have all seen what a farce it was. If you cannot buy an oven for your house that is tested by some standards organisation, how do you expect ICC to use technology manufactured by some 3rd party but was not tested by an independent party? Its a good move by BCCI to have it tested. All those blind DRS fanatics will soon see how error prone the system is! http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/story/553449.html

  • Ashwin on April 15, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    "Will ICC take first steps towards best governance?" LOL NICE JOKE

  • anu on April 15, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    Woolf's report was dismissed as chimercial, egalatarian and impractical.......by all those who understand how power equations work and by those who matter.

    Now CI keeps flogging, thumping, beating the Woolf's report hoping tpo breathe life into something long dead.


    Because instead of reporting facts and analyses from all point of views......CI is driving it's own desires and wishes on how game should be run........it's called driving an agenda

  • John on April 15, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    This is a big test for Alan Isaac. Can you muster enough of them to have the courage to stand up to Srinivasan for their own good?

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Power flows through the barrel of money and until the other Boards can come anywhere near the Indian Board's financial dominance the odds will be in favor of that country The ICC seriously needs to spend some of its resources and its energies and evolve a strategy to make cricket more attractive to sponsors in at least among the major nations...the West Indies for example Its all about innovative marketing

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