Clarke's ICC chairman bid hits rocks
Giles Clarke's hopes of becoming the next chairman of the ICC appear to be receding, with neither Australia nor South Africa expected to support his candidacy should he choose to stand for election later this year.
In order to fulfil his long-held ambition and assume the most high-profile post in world cricket, Clarke would require a majority of the 13 board votes - comprising ten full-member nations and three associate representatives - at the ICC election in June.
However, with campaigning expected to get underway in earnest at this week's board meeting in Dubai, it is understood that Cricket South Africa is particularly opposed to Clarke's candidacy, at a time when many of the reforms that he was so instrumental in driving through during the so-called "Big Three" takeover of 2014 are set to be repealed.
"Giles Clarke is the type of personality to say it so much that people believe he is the chairman, and that's it. That's not the case," a CSA insider told journalists at a briefing in South Africa. "We have written to the ICC and it is on the agenda for changing the constitution. There is every likelihood that the ICC will reverse the structure and the things that it did two years ago."
CSA's opposition has been matched by that of Cricket Australia, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, with the new board chairman, David Peever, understood to have distanced himself from the role played in the takeover by his predecessor, Wally Edwards, who retired from the post last year.
With N Srinivasan, the former president of the BCCI and inaugural chairman of the ICC, being forced to stand down from both roles after being found by India's Supreme Court to have had a conflict of interest in his ownership of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, Clarke is the last remaining architect of the ICC power-grab and, as such, is increasingly seen as being the wrong man to lead the board in a climate of counter-reformation.
The weakness of the other seven Test nations since the takeover is understood to be a cause of widespread concern among ICC board members, with West Indies still smarting from a humiliating tour of Australia and the PCB particularly aggrieved at the decentralisation of the Future Tours Programme, which has been replaced since 2014 by a series of bilateral agreements. The idea of a Test championship, shelved last year in favour of a rebooted Champions Trophy, could also be put to a vote.
A widespread "review of ICC constitutional amendments" is also expected to be on the table in Dubai this week, with one anticipated change, according to the Telegraph, being the requirement for all future ICC chairmen to be independent of their member boards.
Assuming that that change is rubber-stamped - and Shashank Manohar, the current chairman, has driven it through in response to the Srinivasan scandal - Clarke would then be obliged to resign his post as ECB president in order to stand as ICC chairman. Clarke's new ECB role was specially created at the end of his eight-year tenure as ECB chairman in 2015, ostensibly to provide continuity at ICC level while the board's new management duo, Colin Graves and Tom Harrison, bedded into their roles of chairman and chief executive respectively.
However, the reluctance of Cricket Australia to endorse Clarke is not believed to reflect any weakened standing for the ECB's new bosses among their peers at the ICC. Peever, the former managing director of Rio Tinto, met with Harrison and Graves in Singapore before Christmas, with James Sutherland, CA's long-standing chief executive, also present. It was there, during an apparently cordial meeting, that the decision not to endorse Clarke's candidature was expressed.
When asked about the implications of the proposed reforms for Clarke's future with the ECB, a board spokesman told ESPNcricinfo that it would not be appropriate to speculate on the outcome of a meeting that has not yet been held.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket