ECB pressed for answers by MP as scrutiny grows on Clarke
The ECB is under pressure to confirm whether it intends to put forward Giles Clarke, the board president, as its nominee for the forthcoming election for ICC chairman in June, in spite of his prominent role in the ICC structural reforms of 2014 that were widely discredited in last month's board meeting in Dubai.
With Clarke facing an appearance before the Department of Culture Media and Sport Select Committee later in the year, where his role in the so-called "Big Three" takeover will be scrutinised by MPs, Damian Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe who sits on the committee, has called on the ECB to answer six questions pertaining to Clarke's ongoing role and the board's overall commitment to good governance that he believes "the cricketing public deserve to know".
Collins confirmed that the questions, which were last week emailed to Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, in advance of Monday night's special parliamentary screening of the award-winning documentary Death of a Gentleman, remain unanswered, raising the possibility that Clarke might already be ICC chairman by the time he is questioned in parliament.
"We did get a statement back from the ECB but they weren't able to answer any of those questions," Collins told ESPNcricinfo. "In particular there has been no response to the issue of Giles Clarke's suitability to stand as ICC chairman."
Although Clarke's candidacy received a blow earlier this year, when it emerged that neither South Africa nor Australia would be willing to back his bid to become chairman, the requirement that all nominees must be either a past or present ICC Board director - as agreed in Dubai last month - may yet limit the number of viable alternatives for the role.
Clarke, who was ECB chairman at the time of the ICC reforms, was handed the specially created role of ECB president in 2015 when his eight-year tenure came to an end. The ECB's reluctance to clarify the details of his new relationship with the board appears at odds with the general move among sporting bodies towards transparent and accountable governance, in the wake of scandals that have gripped football, athletics and tennis in recent times.
"This is a crucial moment for cricket," Collins said. "We have put six key questions to the ECB, because the cricketing public deserve to know how their game is being run.
"England, along with India and Australia, are the most influential boards at the ICC. In August I accused them of orchestrating a back-room power grab that saw these three countries taking over the game at the expense of the other 102.
"We welcome the news from the recent ICC board meeting that the ICC is considering governance reform but we want to know what the ECB thinks that reform should look like.
"It is hugely important that cricket does not miss this opportunity to embrace meaningful reform, and that the ECB are at the forefront of ensuring that the international game gets the independent, transparent and accountable governance it deserves. And if the ECB disagrees, we need to know why."
An ECB spokesman would not be drawn on the subject of Collins' questions, but reiterated the board's previous statement, that it welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Select Committee's ongoing enquiry into sports governance. To date, hearings have been with Greg Dyke, the FA chairman, over Fifa corruption; Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president, over doping in athletics; and Chris Kermode of the ATP over match-fixing in tennis.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket