ICC's revamp plans

Edwards responds to 'Big Three' criticism

Daniel Brettig and Brydon Coverdale

January 22, 2014

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Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards with ECB chairman Giles Clarke, first Test, England v Australia, Nottingham, July 10, 2013
Cricket Australia's chairman Wally Edwards, seen here with the ECB chairman Giles Clarke, has been a key figure in the proposal to be voted on by the ICC © Getty Images
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Wally Edwards, the Cricket Australia chairman and a key figure in the drafting of a proposal to centralise power in world cricket with India and England, has broken his usual silence to defend the plan in the face of heavy criticism from the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA).

Through FICA's chairman Paul Marsh, the world's cricketers have voiced their strong opposition to the proposed revamp of the ICC's structure, declaring that it would only serve to strengthen India, England and Australia while weakening the rest.

Commonly preferring to work the back channels of cricket administration before speaking publicly, Edwards said he felt compelled to respond to FICA's contention that the nations involved in drafting the proposal had defied their commitment to work in the best interests of the ICC by doing so.

"Traditionally, CA does not comment on ICC discussions it is about to have - we talk to other ICC nations across the table rather than via the media," Edwards said. "But we were today disappointed to see the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations question whether CA and others have met their fiduciary duties as ICC members.

"Setting aside the fact that we are yet to discuss and vote, CA's approach internationally is consistent with its approach at home where we have made significant strides improving the governance of Australian cricket. There will be a discussion in the next few days among the ICC's full member nations about possible changes to how the ICC works.

"CA's view going into that discussion is that we need to continue to promote international cricket competitions including the primacy of Test cricket, we need to improve global cricket leadership and we support that members should be working to promote the interest of the game as their priority."

Edwards is the first chairman of the three nations tabling the proposal to speak publicly about it. Neither N Srinivasan of the BCCI nor Giles Clarke of the ECB have been prepared to talk about the proposal or its implications, preferring to wait until the raft of changes are voted on by the ICC executive board at their next meeting on January 28 and 29.

FICA, which represents player associations in seven of the ICC's ten full member countries, had declared itself "extremely concerned" with the leaked proposal, which would place the ICC largely in the control of the so-called "Big Three" nations. Marsh said players had a real fear the proposal would leave countries outside the Big Three to "wither on the vine".

"There are a myriad of issues with this proposal," Marsh said. "First and foremost, as board directors of the ICC, the Chairmen of the BCCI, Cricket Australia and ECB owe fiduciary duties to the ICC that include putting the interests of the ICC ahead of those of their individual boards, a duty to remain loyal to the ICC and avoid conflicts of interests and to act in good faith to promote the success of the ICC. We seriously question whether all of these duties have been met.

"The proposals relating to scheduling are disturbing. The reassurance to the boards outside the 'Big Three' that they are guaranteed to earn more in the next rights cycle than they have in the current one ignores the fact they are almost certain to lose more money from a re-shaped Future Tours Programme (FTP) than they will gain from ICC distributions, when the 'Big Three' inevitably pick and choose who, when and where they will play.

"Of significance is the section that offers a guarantee from Cricket Australia and the ECB to play three Tests and five ODIs per cycle to each of the top eight members, yet there is no mention of any such guarantee from the BCCI. Each of the member countries, including Australia and England, rely heavily on Indian tours for sustainability of the game in their country. What chance do the majority of members have of survival if the BCCI decides not to tour their countries on at least a semi-regular basis?

"The result of this is that the gap between the 'Big Three' and the rest will get bigger and bigger, which will undermine the competitiveness of future ICC events and therefore the value of rights in future cycles. This will affect everyone and it cannot possibly be in the interests of international cricket nor of the health and sustainability of the world game of which the ICC is supposed to be the custodian."

Boards of ICC members outside the Big Three have expressed differing views on the proposal, with Cricket South Africa arguing the idea is "fundamentally flawed" and "in breach of the ICC constitution", while New Zealand Cricket said it was wrong to jump to the conclusion that the proposal would be bad for cricket. However, FICA has raised concerns about the potential increased financial strain that could affect countries already struggling to make money from the game.

"We also have significant concern with the notion that distributions from ICC events should be based on commercial contribution," Marsh said. "The result of this will be the countries that need ICC income most will receive the least, whilst the 'Big Three' will get the lion's share even though they are already financially healthy because of the value of the rights to their bilateral series.

"The role of ICC events should be to assist in levelling the financial playing field by distributing the proceeds from these events fairly, rather than further widening the gap between the rich and poor. Whilst these are an entirely foreseeable commercial outcomes, for the cricket fan the greater concern is the increasing gulf in quality between the 'Big Three' and the rest. The essence of sport is competition and those in control of the ICC should be doing all they can to promote and provide a level playing field. This proposal will achieve the complete opposite.

"Ironically the proposal espouses the principal of meritocracy. The linking of immunity from Test relegation for BCCI, ECB and CA to an argument that this is necessary 'solely to protect ICC income' is plainly wrong, given the fact no Test-based ICC events feature in the forward thinking and therefore all revenues generated from Test cricket are kept by the boards hosting the respective series."

Daniel Brettig and Brydon Coverdale are assistant editors at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (January 26, 2014, 12:44 GMT)

Dear IND-ENG&CA - Cricket is Business to you but ‪#‎Oxygen‬ for us in Bangladesh. Don't take our #‎Oxygen‬ for your Business....

Posted by   on (January 26, 2014, 10:36 GMT)

Big3's proposal is for the betterment of cricket by winning more. This will result in attracting more followers in their respective countries so here is my alternate proposal. * The big three should be given the authority to play on the kind of pitches they want play. Like India if they are performing well on flat pitches they should be given flat pitches around the world no matter if they are playing in South Africa or in New Zealand. Same for England if they cannot play on slow and spinning pitches they should be given the chance to choose the kind of pitches they want to play * Big3 should also be given the authority to drop any three players in the opposition. Take For example Srilanka, Aussies should have authority to drop any three players like Snagakara, Jawaredane and Malinga before match and then play against them.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2014, 17:10 GMT)

This is the worst idea like "Big3" from any kind of top executive . How can they think like this!!!! Without SA, SL, WI, PAK..... they are big3! How they calculate it? Only money! We, billion of supporters are not stupid. We will hate and avoid this type of discrimination.

Posted by JetsFanInDenver on (January 24, 2014, 18:50 GMT)

On one hand most boards openly say that they depend on BCCI for sustaining themselves and on the other hand they do not want to nourish the hand that feeds them.

The reason BCCI generates a whole bunch of revenue is because cricket is the most followed game in India and attracts sponsors. But in this ever changing world where there are professional sports leagues with deeper pockets trying to get the attention of the Indian viewer it becomes even more critical for BCCI to ramp up its marketing and promotion of the game. So why would these other boards not want BCCI to have a bigger chunk of the revenue ?

Posted by   on (January 24, 2014, 16:28 GMT)

The more subltle message here is that the "big three" are saying that over the years countries benefitting from ICC payments have not exhibited financially sound accounting for those funds. With the new media deal coming in 2015 it is expected that overall revenues will increase and that before the other boards receive any more funding they must make themselves more efficient and use any ICC payouts in constructive ways. If India waste money it is their prerogative as they earn and contribute the lions share of revenues but if the boards of Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh are corrupt or waste money why should they receive any increase.

Posted by gaindballa on (January 24, 2014, 15:13 GMT)

The argument that if india brings in 80 percent they should get 80 percent , is deeply flawed. First India doesn't bring in 80 percent by themselves. They have to play another team to do that. Second, they don't own the game itself. The game survived when they weren't a part of it and will endure without them. Do they pay royalties to the guy who invented the game? Seems to me that they should be thankful for getting as much as they do.

ICC must be an independent organization to safeguard the interests of the game and to develop it. All funds generated by "the game" should go to them and invested back into the game.

Posted by SaadRocx on (January 24, 2014, 14:56 GMT)

Cricket will die the day Big3 happens.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (January 24, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

@Greatest_Game, mate relax! No point in letting your blood boil. You guys can't generate interest in your own public even when Kallis is retiring. Only day 5 stadium had some reasonable numbers, if I'm not wrong. Bottom-line is in spite of having a very good team, what does it tell you that the numbers are so weak from your countrymen. Instead of showing your frustration here, realise that BCCI is strong not because the people in BCCI are strong but because the craze for cricket in our country is unconditional. Nobody needs to force us to watch cricket. We just need excuses to go watch cricket. Show half this anger (that you are showing here) at your own countrymen's utter disinterest in cricket and wake them up. So, mate you see the point here? This game is played for money and fame. That's the cold and harsh reality. It's in the best interest of CSA to toe the line drawn by BCCI, CA and ECB, IMHO. India and SA are always friends and I hope all the differences will be sorted out.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 24, 2014, 5:03 GMT)

Putting my thinking cap on, what the BCCI are trying to do makes SENSE. For example, if I bring over 80% of income in a big family with several members, of whom nine are about the same age as me, then obviously I get a bigger say in matters of the house as well as a nice hefty allowance every month for my personal expenses and enjoyment. That's exactly what the BCCI are trying to do or 'get' rather. It makes perfect sense now. The sad part though is world cricket won't benefit in any way. The BCCI will become even richer followed by England and Australia, and the rest will become poorer. The countries in between like SA, SL, and PAK will suffer the most because they are technically 'developing' nations of the cricket world and this is when they need to improve their financial position more so than ever before. World cricket is at the crossroads.

Posted by Manoj1234 on (January 24, 2014, 0:29 GMT)

It seems OK if this is only about the financial distribution. If you contribute to 80% of the revenue you will not be happy getting 5% of the share. Its not a charity.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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