England news February 29, 2016

Clarke set to be called before parliament to explain role in Big Three takeover

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Protesters outside The Oval call to 'change cricket' (Archive footage)

Giles Clarke, the ECB president, faces the prospect of being called to appear before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, to explain his role in the controversial ICC structural reforms of February 2014, in which the boards of England, India and Australia seized control of the sport's finances.

No hearing is expected before Easter, but as and when it does take place, Clarke is expected to answer questions about the ECB's role in the behind-closed-doors takeover which was presented to other Full Members of the ICC as a done deal. The process of the deal was outlined in the film Death of a Gentleman, which was last week named as Documentary of the Year at the Prestigious Sports Journalists' Association Awards in London.

A screening of Death of a Gentleman, which was directed and produced by Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber and which portrays Clarke in an especially unflattering light, will be shown in the House of Commons on Monday evening.

Clarke, who is expected to be the ECB's nomination for the role of ICC chairman at the forthcoming board elections in June, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, in particular since his fellow architect of the so-called "Big Three Takeover", N Srinivisan, was forced to stand down from his dual roles as ICC chairman and BCCI president after being found to have a conflict of interest with his ownership of the IPL franchise, Chennai Super Kings.

"The committee has decided to look into the conduct of the England & Wales Cricket Board in relation to the governance of International cricket, in the context of the other investigations it is currently undertaking," a spokesperson for the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed.

"The committee has already looked at football, athletics and tennis, as part of a wider group of investigations into sports governance and, in relation to cricket, the ECB is an obvious choice to call in."

In August last year, Collins and Kimber organised a protest to "change cricket" outside The Oval on the first morning of the fifth Test against Australia, at which Damien Collins (no relation), the MP for Folkestone and Hythe and a member of the select committee, was also present.

"Cricket has been taken over by England, Australia and India at the expense of the other 102 countries that play the game," said Damien Collins during the protest.

"These three titans of the game have engineered a backroom power grab where cricket is the loser and England, Australia and India are the perennial winners. Not only are they doing the wrong thing by their sport, but it is a conflict of interest. It is clear they do not have an interest in developing and growing the game globally, but only in their own backyards."

At the recent ICC board meeting in Dubai, the interim chairman, Shashank Manohar, set in motion a possible repeal of many of the reforms, having told the Hindu that he did not agree with "the major countries bullying the ICC". Clarke, for his part, has always maintained that he had the sport's best interests at heart in driving through the deal.

"The England & Wales Cricket Board is aware of interest from the Select Committee for Culture, Media & Sport to look into the governance of international cricket," an ECB spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "The Committee has already spoken to a number of sports bodies in their on-going enquiries into the governance of international sport and we would welcome the opportunity to talk with them in the coming weeks."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

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