Clarke angry at Oliver snub
England's defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka at Headingley was matched on the other side of the world by a similarly significant blow for the ECB and its chairman Giles Clarke, with Scotland's Keith Oliver voted out of his place as an Associate Member representative on the ICC executive board.
Oliver, it is believed, tried to assuage the Associates' fears of a "big three" takeover of the ICC, but his impact and popularity rested entirely among the European Associate nations. When the three spots on the ICC board came up for vote, the chairmanship went to Singapore's Imran Khawaja (31 votes), while Bermuda's Neil Speight (28 votes) and Namibia's Francois Erasmus (19 votes) took the other two seats. Oliver got 13 votes.
Among Associate and Affiliate nations, Oliver is said to be an ally of Clarke, a notion underlined by the ECB chairman's reaction to the defeat. Clarke was understood to be angry with the loss of one of his closest allies, raging over the outcome to some Associate Members on Tuesday evening and reportedly intimating that the vote might be called into question. Other executive board members attempted to cool Clarke's anger, reasoning that the fundamental changes being wrought to the ICC's constitution must be allied to stability and a greater respect for ethics and due process.
Nonetheless, Clarke's indignation could be quantified by the fact the result was a repudiation of an ECB announcement last week that Europe's Associate and Affiliate nations would be granted an unprecedented £480,000 in 2014. The media release to announce this funding, an increase of £120,000 on the previous year, was rounded off by the following words from the ECB chief executive David Collier:
"We congratulate the European Associate Director on the ICC Board Keith Oliver for his leadership in driving many of these new projects and ECB has now committed to running the Level 3 and 4 programmes on a bi-annual basis with the next intake being in 2015 to raise the number of Level 3 and 4 coaches prior to the ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in England and Wales in 2019.
"Mr Oliver has been a positive influence on the ICC Board and his quiet but persuasive advocacy setting out issues, previously not drawn to larger Full Members' attention, has resulted in some beneficial outcomes for Associate and Affiliate members everywhere and I am sure that ECB will continue to work closely with Mr Oliver for the good of European cricket."
In the rest of the Associate world it is often debated that other European countries - apart from exceptions like Ireland and Netherlands - enjoy voting clout and receive far more financial assistance without having proven game development and participation track records among the indigenous populations over expat numbers.
The prospect of Oliver's removal as an Associate representative on the executive board had been brewing for some time, though people in his corner said he argued persuasively for the creation of a pathway for Associates into Test cricket, amid the "big three" plans for restructuring cricket's governance. The creation of this pathway, however, has been undermined by the trimming of the World Cup to ten teams in 2019, a change that has led to considerable anxiety among Associates, with the possible risk that it could lead to them abandoning ODIs.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig