ICC revamp January 29, 2014

'Big Three were more likely to make progress' - Isaac

ESPNcricinfo staff

The ICC's president and CEO on why the Big Three were chosen as the boards to take cricket forward

Alan Isaac, the ICC president, has said that he pushed the three financially strongest boards to collaborate on the revolutionary proposals, instead of involving all Full Members, as they "were more likely to make progress more quickly". Isaac also said the Big Three have been working on draft proposals that called for sweeping changes in world cricket since last July.

"We've been working for some time on the process for selling our commercial rights for post 2015 and part of that process required that we had a members participation agreement (MPA)," Isaac said at the end of the ICC's two-day meeting in Dubai. "You can't go to the market unless you have demonstrated that all members will participate. Round about July last year, I encouraged CA, ECB and BCCI to work together and develop conditions of which all members could happily agree to an MPA."

David Richardson, the ICC CEO, explained why the Big Three were entrusted with drawing up the proposals, with other Full Members only seeing them during a specially-called meeting on January 9. "There were numerous negotiations with all members but only towards the end of that process were the sticking points to be determined," Richardson said. "Those sticking points primarily related to Australia, England and India and to make progress they were asked to discuss things among themselves and see what can be sorted out."

Isaac's reasoning was simpler. "You have to start somewhere. To have the three bigger, stronger members in a room coming up with something that was a basis for discussion - and that is what the draft was, a basis for discussion."

He also said that having a smaller group had helped push discussions along. "It's not unusual to have a working group to look at a particular issue - this is no different than that. I could've added extra people to it, [but] I just felt that the board members from CA and ECB working with India were more likely to make progress more quickly."

Isaac was also not worried that the new ICC governance structure being proposed could give the Big Three control over the world game. "[The ICC] has a group of people who are charged with being directors, who have to act in the best interests of world cricket. That responsibility was reiterated many times in the last two-three days. It is accepted of course that they sit around the table as presidents or chairmen of member boards but the discussion of the last two days has been in respect of their roles as directors of ICC acting in the best interests of world cricket."

When asked why there had been no vote on the proposals at the ICC meeting, Isaac said some of the details were still being worked on. "The resolutions are still being discussed, the content of resolution and some of the details behind them. That's why we took an approach of not having a vote because there was nothing to vote on but we thought it was important to make some progress around some principles."

Isaac was asked whether giving control to three financially strong boards was a practical solution to handle any opposition to policies. Using the example of how the BCCI, he said, "I find this quite interesting because if you wind back two-three weeks before January 9, the view around the world, the criticism of world cricket was that the ICC and world cricket was controlled by the BCCI. You get to the January 9 leaking of documents and all of a sudden there is criticism because there are three members driving world cricket." The reality, Isaac said, " is that England, Australia and South Africa started it [Test cricket] and the experience of those boards is greater than a whole lot of others. But that's not even relevant. You have to start somewhere. At the end of the day the board will only agree to the recommendations if they thought they were in the best interests of world cricket."

In reply to a question on whether there had been any other parameters other than the financial contributions of the Australian, English and Indian cricket boards, when asking them to revise the revised governance and revenue plan, Isaac said, "I'm not sure how to answer that, really. I made the point that you have to start somewhere and I'm happy to say I encouraged them to work together. We've had a situation at ICC board meetings where we often go from one meeting to another meeting three months later and we don't make a lot of progress. By getting a smaller group together we often make progress. It's not unusual to have a working group to look at a particular issue - this is no different than that. I could have added extra people to it. I just felt that the board members from CA and ECB working with India were more likely to make progress more quickly.

He said there had been "confusion" over the "unanimous support" offered to the "principles" by the Full Member boards on Tuesday. "We had an IDI [ICC's existing commercial arm] board meeting today and we reconfirmed that the agreement to those principles was unanimous. Where I think there is some confusion is when the details [are] put on those principles and they take the form of resolutions in terms of how the principles will apply. There will be a need for some boards to go to their board members for consultations. In terms of agreeing to those principles, the directors reiterated this morning that it was unanimous."

Isaac said the purpose of the special January 9 board meeting was to "give Full Members at least a bit of an indication of where the thinking was at. The alternative could have been not to have consulted them at all and brought them to this meeting and told them this is where we're at. So I think it's really positive that there was a meeting on January 9 and as a result of that meeting, there have been a lot of discussions and bilaterals through the recommendations seen on that draft and what forms the basis of resolutions to be considered at subsequent meetings. So you have to start somewhere."

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