Players' association reacts to ICC threats March 24, 2006

ICC accused of 'deliberate attempt to dilute player representation'

Malcom Speed and Ehsan Mani: on a collision course with FICA © Getty Images
The war of words between FICA, the international players' association, and the ICC continued after Tim May, FICA's chief executive, reacted angrily to comments that the ICC was considering not recognising the association.

Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, issued a press release yesterday in which he slammed FICA's "unnecessarily belligerent approach" and said that each country's players would be better off dealing with their own board one-on-one rather than through an international body.

"The release is nothing new in terms of tactics of governing bodies trying to break down collective strength to an individual basis," May told Cricinfo. "To reduce player input to an individual player association/player basis is regressive and a deliberate attempt to dilute player representation on ICC related matters."

May highlighted the reasons FICA came into being in the first place. It was, he said, because countries were not consulting their players, or, if they were, they either "didn't represent the players' views to the ICC as they either conflicted with that country's position or they just couldn't be bothered."

He continued: "FICA agrees that players' associations should deal with the countries directly on issues that are specific to that country. However, on common issues that affect players equally over the cricketing world, it is far better business sense to deal with one collective group rather than 10 individual associations, where opinions and positions will range from one end of the spectrum to the other.

"It is highly likely that such player opinions never reach the negotiation table."

Asked about Speed's claims that FICA was not representative as it was only recognised in five countries, he said the fact that some countries chose not to recognise their respective player associations was irrelevant. "What is relevant is whether the players recognise FICA as their representative.

"FICA continues to enjoy the full support of not only its membership but beyond. Attempts by governing bodies not to recognise and respect the opinions of players only strengthen the collective resolve of the players."

May's comments were supported by Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, who warned of growing injuries to players "because of their heavy workload". And Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, said that it had been agreed at the last ICC meeting with captains that they would play a maximum of 25-30 ODIs a year. "I don't know what happened about that decision," he told The News. "I would like to have a look at the FTP and see just how many matches we've to play in the coming years. There is no doubt we have already been playing a lot of matches."

May also hit out at the ICC for reacting to slap down FICA while doing nothing to address the situation in Zimbabwe. "The world of cricket has witnessed the inactivity and lack of leadership from ICC with regards to the Zimbabwean crisis," he said. "The ICC sits on its hands and continues to recognise and welcome Zimbabwe to its meetings and as part of the international cricket scene."

He told Cricinfo that FICA had been working tirelessly to resolve the large sums owed to players by Zimbabwe Cricket, but requests to the ICC to intervene had been fruitless. "The ICC's response? Retain Zimbabwe, label FICA as belligerent and irresponsible and, as so often ICC do, isolate those who speak ill of them."

Speed has indicated the ICC will debate removing recognition of FICA in April. If so, the ICC executive, which is made up of the heads of each Full Member-board, could find itself on a collision course with the people who actually play the game.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo