ICC revamp

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

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 29, 2014

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

'Struggled to find Test Championship format'

  • David Richardson, the ICC CEO, has said the inability to find a suitable format led to the World Test Championship failing to get off the ground.
  • "I think we were always struggling to find a format for WTC that could be completed within a relatively short space of time and that would not lead to more damage than good," Richardson said. "As we know draws are such an important part of Tests and you've seen numerous formats tried in various countries where you have a final for your domestic competitions and those finals always tend to be damp squibs really because one team is playing for a draw on first-innings lead."
  • Richardson said the lack of a Test Championship was not a setback for the format as the ICC's rankings were becoming significant. "If you look at it the way the board has looked at it now, we have the ranking system which is becoming more and more prominent, more and more people taking note of it, more teams are trying to end the year as No. 1 and earn the financial prize money that goes with that. There's prestige involved in being No. 1 and holding the mace."

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."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by stonk on (January 31, 2014, 12:00 GMT)

The Big Three are counting on everybody to cow down to their will. India claims to contribute 80% of ICC income. Who did the sums.? Test teams tour India and out of the 80% how much is attributed to the visiting tourists.? If the sides touring India do not add value to income generated why go there? India as tourists are not worth the money spent on their stay, if you go by their recent touring record i.e. Tests 4-nil in England ; 4-nil in Australia, one-nil in South Africa, leaving aside their one day record while touring. Just today they lost a series 4-nil to New Zealand who are 8th in the rankings while India arrived there as number one. Either way, these facts do not justify the claim of 80% of income generated by India.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2014, 4:20 GMT)

@Thegimp, Granted our SA Board has messed things up historically. Impossible to argue otherwise. But in the last 9 months they have put governance in place, appointed independent directors and chosen a good CEO (much to India's ire) They have improved a lot.

But even accepting what you say is true, does it follow that the Big 3 should run cricket, each with an effective veto? Does it follow they should be exempt from relegation?

As for good governance Indian cricket may well be hugely financially successful but if you are implying they are a paragon or transparency and good governance then I dont know what to say.

Sure many of the other countries are less successful financially. It does not follow they they are ever more condemned to the lower table. Right now what the big 3 are doing is buying off the dissenters with promises of tours etc.

Its the old Empire again. Only with India added.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 31, 2014, 1:21 GMT)

@mzm149: Agreed. You got a valid point. This proves how absurd these new ICC regulations are. Who are they fooling ? Even the BCCI are okay with their claims of a higher profit share but other than that, I don't believe in a Security Council style ICC. Sport should be played on merit and democratic principles of equal opportunity and equal advancement. It seems the Big 3 aren't willing to compromise on that issue.

Posted by Moppa on (January 31, 2014, 0:27 GMT)

@Sigismund - the timeless Test final is a good solution. To stop it from getting completely ridiculous, you could bring in a special rule, e.g. compulsory declaration after 180 overs.

Posted by Sigismund on (January 30, 2014, 18:57 GMT)

I have said it before, but to me the solution for the WTC is obvious: the final has to be a timeless Test. If this is a bit inconvenient for the broadcaster, then simply CHARGE THEM LESS MONEY! There can be only one argument against this: that the primary guiding principle of cricket administrators is to make as much money as possible.

Posted by   on (January 30, 2014, 15:28 GMT)

I do not know on what basis the Big Three are decided. If it is based on performance then it will be big joke as India and England are really struggling now. South Africa, really missing though it is one of the best performing teams in three forms. I gradually loose interest as the game and the administration is highly corrupted now

Posted by   on (January 30, 2014, 14:07 GMT)

Mr. Kamal from Bangladesh iis going to be the new ICC President according to the current constitution. None of the Big 3 finds this acceptable. Furthermore, the Big 3, thinks that they are the only ones who can run professional organization to raise the most money and are not influenced by the Betting world. In a way, they are exercising their inheritance right. If they could ECB and CA would go along, but they know without BCCI they can not do this. India is going in for the cricket world dominance. India is the new US in the cricketing world. The Big 3 finds the rest of the ICC full members as distraction. Nothing is simple. For every action there is a reaction.

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (January 30, 2014, 11:40 GMT)

@VisBal has summarised this beautifully.

"Big Three were more likely to make progress" and, inevitably, also further their self-interest to the detriment of others. If all was really above-board why the need for secretive meetings? Congratulations to Sharda Ugra, Jarrod Kimber and all the ESPNcricinfo staff for an excellent use of the media and bringing this to everyone's attention before it was too late.

Posted by billycraven on (January 30, 2014, 10:25 GMT)

We, SA, rank in the top 3 of all formats of the game yet we are not part of the decision making of the ICC. It tells us that our players are of the best but our administration is not. Surely this will result in cricket in SA going backwards, the recent Indian tour is the start, they decide what they want and how they want it. I suppose it is one way of taking the no 1 test ranking from us, if at first you do not succeed, try something else. I wonder whether Dave Richardson will still be welcome back home.

Posted by saffaexile on (January 30, 2014, 9:45 GMT)

Yes I may be getting upset but not because my board hasn't been given a seat at the top table and I made no inference to the ability of any one's board or that they should run the ICC. The point is that the result is undemocratic which for an international organisation is simply unacceptable and should be from ANYONE'S point of view.

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