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Woolf report may challenge ICC status quo

Sharda Ugra

January 30, 2012

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Mustafa Kamal, the Bangladesh Cricket Board president, at the ICC board meeting, Dubai, October 12, 2010
Mustafa Kamal's candidature for the ICC vice-presidency is one of the topics that will come up for discussion © Getty Images
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The quarterly meeting of the ICC's Executive Board meeting due to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dubai, will consider the nomination of a vice-presidential candidate to succeed the next ICC chief Alan Isaac, and discuss a change in prize money around Test cricket but most importantly, discover whether cricket has actually let a genie out of the bottle.

The centrepiece of the two-day meeting will be the presentation of the final report from the independent governance review of the ICC headed by Lord Woolf, the former chief justice of England and Wales. The report will contain a series of recommendations which will be discussed by the Executive Board before they can be put before the ICC's full house in future meetings. The most contentious of these recommendations is expected to be the inclusion of independent members on the ICC board and its various committees.

The Board will also discuss Pakistan and Bangladesh's nomination of Mustafa Kamal as their candidate to take over as the ICC vice-president from 2012 to 2014. If approved, Kamal's appointment will establish him as the ICC's president-elect to succeed Alan Isaac as the head of the ICC in 2014. Kamal's nomination follows current ICC procedure of a rotational handover of the ICC president-ship from region to region. There have been attempts the recent past to push for a change in the ICC constitution to allow the ICC president-elect appointment to be made through open candidature.

The independent governance review was part of a new strategic plan announced in April 2011 which was set into motion in August 2011. At the time, there was said to be an internal debate within the Board about the benefits of an independent review in itself. It was argued that the presence of the outsiders looking into the functioning of a tight clique of the ICC's Full Members was not necessary.

The Woolf panel is known to have spoken to more than 50 stakeholders around the world and sought the views of many more via written interviews. It presented an interim report at the last ICC Board meeting in October 2011. Until the February Board meeting, when BCCI president N Srinivasan is expected to meet with the members of the review panel, the only lone BCCI official who consented to be interviewed was vice-president Arun Jaitley.

The review panel questioned stakeholders about the governance of the ICC around issues of criteria and categories of its membership, the consideration of an independent committee of members and directors, the distribution of funding between members, and the presidential election process. Any recommended changes in these particular aspects of the ICC's functioning would be a challenge to the status quo. The Board will be aiming to strike a balance between making the report public and resisting recommendations that aim to distribute or dilute the powers now enjoyed by the Full Members.

In its October 2011 meeting, the ICC president Sharad Pawar said the Board, "had agreed to make the report public after it has met with Lord Woolf in February 2012." It is believed that player associations are very keen to see the full report and recommendations. The Woolf review has been the first time the ICC asked for external inspection of its own functioning. What has emerged from the findings of the Woolf report could prove difficult to keep under wraps especially since the recommendations will involve several interest groups amongst the members.

The debate about the presidential appointment could be one of them. The decision to put to vote any proposed amendment of the ICC's constitution around the appointment of its president was deferred at the ICC's annual conference in Hong Kong last June. While Kamal is said to be confident of enough support to see his nomination through, there is a possibility of the constitutional amendment being sought yet again during the Board meeting. England and India are on the same side in this argument and are keen to see the constitution amended in time for their own candidates to make a push for the presidency.

Another independent report up for discussion during the meeting centres around the ticketing issues that arose during the 2011 World Cup. The ICC would also deliberate over a proposal to increase prize money in Test cricket, intended to "promote Test match cricket in the period before the ICC Test Championship event in 2017".

The Board will also study reports about the ICC Global Cricket Academy, the implementation of Anti-Corruption Codes in domestic cricket, the adoption of a Safety and Security Code as well as an annual Ethics report. The ICC Board meeting in Dubai will be attended by the chairman or president of the 10 full members, but three representatives of the Associates, along with the ICC president Sharad Pawar, vice president Isaac and ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat. The ICC's principal advisor IS Bindra has also been invited to attend.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Lord_Dravid on (January 31, 2012, 22:12 GMT)

THE ICC IS A JOKE..AND ALSO TOO MANY OFFICALS ALL GOOD FOR NOTHING!!!

Posted by   on (January 31, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

well Indians dont like Test Cricket. we get that from their recent form. But then again India is not even got at Odis or T20 outside India.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

@ Ajay Kumar Sharma, oh dear , you are just want to see all this because your indian team cant play test cricket, which is origional cricket,

Posted by Technical-1 on (January 31, 2012, 13:57 GMT)

They need to force India.. To use Technology.

Posted by allieeb on (January 31, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

Indian authorities will not agree to Mustafa Kamal's election. They are against Pakistan and they will show that. The ICC is controlled by India. In their eyes whatever Pakistan has is not good. Like when Pakistan were world cup holders of T20 in 2009. India could not stand the pain and paid member countries to vote for another T20 world cup the very following year, despite every single national player begging the question 'too much cricket'. In the period 2007 and 2010 we had THREE T20 World Cups sandwiched between the 50 over ODI World Cups. The question that needs to be asked is 'WHY'.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

@ Ajay Kumar Sharma: Most revenue is generated from broadcasting rights, not ticket sales.Pak England series was watched around the globe.Secondly, even though its Pakistan's home away form home, things would be different if there was cricket in Pakistan.Just because Indians love fast food version of cricket, and their board is making loads of money of it doesnt mean the rest of the world has to stick to it.Ive thoroughly enjoyed test cricket over the last one yr. Its the real test of skills and even though Pakistans ranking in T20 is higher than its test and ODI ranking, i would still prefer the longer version any day. T20 is eating away at Indian cricket, stardom and bucket load of money for a few days of work and a bit of money for the rest of the yr ,are you surprised then why your players arent focusing on test cricket then?So if u dont plan on doing well in it, dont deprive other nations of it.

Posted by passionateindocricfan on (January 31, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

@Ajay Kumar Sharma The reason there were empty stands in the Eng-Pak test was the venue, the match was played in UAE. Had the match been played in Pakistan the stadiums would have overflowed with passionate spectators. And dat particular test match was way more exciting than most T-20 matches. What d ICC ought to do is promote Test cricket and ensure dat more and more Tests are played in venues where people are more passionate about d sport and turn up in large nos to watch Tests ex. Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Kanpur in India. After all tests are the real test of skills and toughness and they seperate the wheat from the chaff.

Posted by Itchy on (January 31, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

@Ajay Kumar Sharma: The Pak/Eng test was played at a neutral venue which affected the volume of people going to watch the match. On the other hand, the Aus/Ind tests had large crowds and would like to watch a slightly more well-thought out game, not just swing and miss/hit - if we all wanted to watch that, we would watch baseball. T20 is not cricket but a game that looks and sounds like cricket for those with a limited attention span.

Posted by zain.ul.abideen on (January 31, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

ICC is not a 'for profit' organization, its here to promote cricket around the world and not to make money. Besides look at BCCI; look where the money craze has taken them; test cricket in india is going down the drain and nobody cares because they have money pouring in from the IPL/ WWE wrestlemania. The same fate may be suffered by the indian ODI team if they continue down the current path. BCCI shouldn't be allowed to influence the ICC to get on board the money train and run over test cricket. Sorry guys, may be a bit harsh but true.

Posted by kempy21 on (January 31, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

@Nutcutlet, I guess it depends on what is considered the pinnacle of our game, and from which perspective. Commercialisation/corporatisation (whichever word you wish to use) is something that can't be irradicated. As long as you have large corporations and businessmen looking to run cricket, the dollar/rand/rupee is going to win every time. It is a great aspect of our game that we can have 3 versions (Test/ODI/T20) and it still flourishes. With those 3 formats brings fans who have preferences for one form over the other. Mine, like you, is Test cricket, but face it T20 isn't going anywhere soon and given its rate of ascendency will probably be the most popular form in the next 20 years.

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