ICC reviewing stance against government interference
The ICC is reviewing its stance against government involvement in the administration of cricket in its Members, the ICC president Alan Isaac has said. Removal of government interference had been one of the Woolf report recommendations approved by the ICC but Isaac said it had recognised the role governments played in developing cricket in several countries and is rethinking its position.
"In the ICC annual conference, we made some changes and introduced some onerous penalties if they [issues related to government interference] are not complied with," Isaac said in Dhaka. "In the last meeting, we discussed the issues and the realities are we need to reflect on perhaps the draconian nature of some of those requirements.
"In this part of the world and lots of other countries, quite honestly, cricket and other sports depend on the government. We are having a little bit of post-change review. I am not making any comment about what those changes might result to, but I think we are having a period of reflection."
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is one of those bodies that has historically had its president appointed by the government. Current BCB president Nazmul Hasan was also appointed by the government after Mustafa Kamal was made the ICC vice-president and had to relinquish his position with the board.
Among other boards, Sri Lanka Cricket board members are elected, however major financial expenditures must be approved by the government, and the sports minister must also approve squad selections. This power was most conspicuously used in 2008, when the sports minister intervened to revive the career of Sanath Jayasuriya, who became a Member of Parliament with the governing party in 2010, while he was still playing.
The PCB chairman is also appointed by the president of Pakistan, who is the chief patron of the board. The chief patron also has the power to relieve the PCB chairman of his post, and must approve the appointment of the governing board members.
"Every country has unique circumstances and unique way to deal with matters," a top PCB official told ESPNcricinfo. "A standalone problem for Pakistan is to bring international cricket back to the country and we can't ensure that without the help of the government." The PCB had already conveyed to the ICC the sensitivity of the matter in Pakistan, and hinted at its reluctance to adapt the recommendation.
The Woolf report had stated that "governments taking an interest in the development of cricket and providing support and patronage to Member Boards may be acceptable or even desirable. It is a matter of achieving an appropriate balance between support and interference. It is important for the credibility of such safeguards that once defined, they are enforced rigorously and consistently." At its annual conference in 2011, the ICC gave its member boards two years to become democratised and free from government and political interference.
In this year's annual conference, the BCB had amended its constitution to include the election of its president, and put an end to the government appointment system. The National Sports Council, the sports regulatory body in the country, ratified this change but also stipulated that there must be three government-appointed directors.
Isaac said the ICC were in talks with the BCB to get acquainted with the board's constitution before recommending any changes. "It is not so much about the elected president; it's more the lack of government interference. The ICC staffs are in discussions with the BCB to understand what the constitution actually says to some of those aspects."
Isaac also reiterated the ICC's stance regarding the possibility of Bangladesh touring Pakistan in the near future, saying they would provide match officials if the security arrangement met their standards. "These are bilateral matches. ICC's role was to provide match officials and referees and obviously it has some responsibility towards these people," Isaac said. "We are all keen to see cricket return to Pakistan as quickly as possible. I think David Richardson and the team has been working with the BCB officials and the PCB officials to do everything they can to get cricket back in Pakistan.
"That work has been done at the moment and an assessment is to be done of the security. If they have not been able to or the officials are not prepared to go, what is likely to happen is the ICC will allow Pakistan officials to stand. That was an arrangement we had agreed previously as a special exception to facilitate cricket returning to Pakistan."
With additional inputs by Andrew Fernando and Umar Farooq.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh