ICC annual conference 2014

'I can't accept that cricket has an image problem' - Srinivasan

Daniel Brettig

June 26, 2014

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'Can't accept cricket has an image problem' - Srinivasan

A transcript of N Srinivasan's press conference in Melbourne, after he was named the first chairman of the restructured ICC.

Opening statement.
First of all it's a great honour for me to have been elected as the first chairman of the ICC, at a time when the ICC also has restructured itself to become more viable and offer better financial stability to Full Members as well as Associates, concentrate on meritocracy, afford Associate members the chance to start playing Test cricket with Full Members, and also to emphasise the development of cricket among the Associates and Affiliates. This new structure provides for a fund for supporting Test cricket, and it also has a guaranteed FTP, which will ensure better quality cricket, competitive cricket and offer all members the chance to play everybody else. So I look forward to this assignment, I think there may be other challenges, but I think we will witness a period when overall all aspects of cricket will improve.

How did these constitutional changes and your move to become chairman evolve over time, and when did the process begin?
I never thought of becoming the chairman. We had a working group to start looking a the next rights cycle of the ICC from 2015-2023 and we started to look at what financial models we should be having. From there we went on to say why only look at the financial model, is ICC in its present form all right? Should we have a slightly different governance model, should we not give a better opportunity for Associates and Affiliates? So this is how the thought process, the whole concept, discussions widened. At the end of the day then we said one should take responsibility for leadership in cricket. That is how England, Australia, ourselves and others thought. It evolved over at least a year ... it is not that we started out with this, we ended up with this.

It is well known that you've been barred as the BCCI president by the Supreme Court of India for the duration of the IPL investigation. Can you explain you're an appropriate, fit and proper person to run world cricket, given your involvement in that investigation?
Actually the court did not ask me, I stepped aside voluntarily.* The Mudgal Committee made a report which did not involve me, but they had given a sealed envelope in which they said there were some unsubstantiated, unverified allegations made by some people, which the court is looking into. I said I'll voluntarily step aside during that period. Now as far as I'm concerned I have done nothing wrong, there is no wrongdoing on my part, and therefore my conscience is very clear, that there is no taint on me. Whatever investigations there are will take their course, it will come out, reports will come out. But unless I have in my mind any doubt I have done anything... I have to think if I have not done [wrong], I do not have any concern.

When you say "there is no taint on me", does that include your son-in-law?
There are some charges against him, he has to defend himself in court. It's a question of whether it is going to be proved or not, but that's up to him. This is a question about me.

But it reflects on you, it [Chennai Super Kings] is your team.
You have to wait until everything is clear. At the end of the day if nothing is proved, I think all this comment would have been unfair.

How big a concern is corruption in cricket and how do you propose to combat it?
The ICC has been taking very strong steps. They have an anti-corruption and security unit, which has done extremely good work. They don't publicise what they do, but I think [they do good work], and I'd ask David Richardson to say a few words on it because it comes directly under him. They've done extensive work, but cricket is being played worldwide in a number of geographies, a number of jurisdictions and is being played simultaneously in many of these places, so it is an arduous task and I think they're doing quite well.

But is it a big problem?
Richardson: The ACSU was formed [14] years back under Lord Paul Condon. Initially the strategy was all about education, prevention, disruption, and that strategy has been arguably very successful. In recent times our ACSU unit has been determined to be more proactive on the investigation side, have sought to engage more with law enforcement agencies to be more effective on the investigation side, and investigations have been concluded over the past two or three years and have come to fruition. But the strategy does remain education, prevention and disruption of attempt to match- and spot-fix by a large number of bookies who travel the world and try to corrupt players.

If you look at the state of things today you can count on less that one hand the amount of ongoing investigations, and even with that small number it is doubtful whether one or two will result in charges being laid. And to me that is reflective of the current state of corruption. Yes, of course it is a threat, we've got these unscrupulous individuals travelling around the world, pitching up wherever cricket is played. And we've got to make sure that we disrupt all their efforts to engage with players or umpires or groundsmen or whoever. The overwhelming majority of cricket played is clean and the cricketers playing it are clean.

Mr Srinivasan, in the past you've always professed to act in the best interests of Indian cricket, do you now propose to act in the best interests of the game globally, and what is your vision for it?
Cricket is a very old game, it has evolved over time, from Test cricket we went to ODI cricket, on to T20 cricket. One of the issues that is facing cricket is we are, in many countries, not seeing the kind of attendances at grounds that we are used to in the past. Some forms of cricket are more popular and see more spectator attention. Having said that, I think the most important thing we must be look at is how to make cricket more interesting by making it more competitive. You will find in this new structure there is a lot of emphasis on meritocracy. The glass ceiling has been broken, the Associates and Affiliates, up and coming teams, they can come up and play the longer version.

As the public sees there is greater competition, I think cricket will also improve. That is something we will drive.

What do you have to say to India having taken up this role?
I am humbled by this opportunity to be a leader in this great organisation, which has done so much for cricket.

Your appointment has been heavily criticised in many parts of the cricket world, what do you say to those who don't think you're the best man for this job?
I believe that some of the criticism is not fair to me and is not well-founded. Beyond that all I can say is that over a long period of time I have been involved with cricket and its administration, and one must judge me by results. It is the first day, I've just been elected, and one has to wait and see as to what is the effect I have on the ICC and on cricket, before you make that judgement.

When you look at world cricket right now, do you think it has an image problem?
No I think the ICC, as David Richardson was explaining earlier, has taken a lot of steps to root out whatever problems are sniffing at world cricket today. As a result of the efforts of the ACSU and the education programmes they have put in place around the world, I think one can say that there is substantial improvement and I can't accept that cricket has an image problem. There may have been some instances, rare instances [of corruption], few and far between, but I think almost all cricket is very competitive and very fair.

Is it that the Western media tried to portray the Indian board when it comes to a chairman, or previously president of the ICC, in a different way and is critical to him?
I have no such view. Media are entitled to have a view, entitled to be critical, but ultimately the facts have to be there. According to me most of the criticism is not well-founded, as time will tell. Beyond that it is difficult for me to speak, there is a matter in court and I do not want to overstep.

What about relationships with the players, the Austrlaian Cricketers Association recently said the ICC was the No. 1 problem in world cricket?
I do not want to respond to the ACA's comments. But I don't think the ICC has a problem with the players.

Over the time of talks about changing the ICC constitution and establishing your chairmanship, was it ever a realistic possibility that India might walk away from the ICC and the game?
No. I think that is an incorrect assessment. India has at all times been very supportive of ICC, and has appreciated what the ICC has done. We may not always agree, it is not possible to always agree with each other on all aspects. But that doesn't mean that one walks away. We have a view, we feel we have the right to one. The ICC is like a large family, so we always felt we had a right to express our view, and that doesn't mean at any time that we would have even dreamt of walking away from the ICC.

*The Supreme Court of India had recommended that Srinivasan step aside as BCCI president in March, and has since turned down his appeals to be reinstated twice.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Posted by CricketMaan on (June 26, 2014, 11:50 GMT)

His greatest battle is not brushing aside criticsm but how does he go abou decisions that BCCI did not align with ICC such as DRS. Will his stand be same as BCCI although now he is with ICC? Enligh media in particular will be very harsh, afterall its a game they rule and monopolized, so for an Indian to be leading and setting rules is something they cannot digest. Lastly BCCI has not played a BIG role in promoting associates at least in front of its fans. They have never invited teams like Bangladesh, Afghanistan to play in India simply coz they were not profitable. Will he or can he influence BCCI to change that attitude? He certainly has done very well for India and its cricketers, but can he replicate it at ICC level?

Posted by Chandramouli.G on (June 26, 2014, 10:30 GMT)

Congratulations and All the Best Mr. Srinivasan Sir.

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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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