July 6, 2008

ICC out of control

The game's governing body has surpassed itself with its moves over Zimbabwe and the Oval Test forfeiture

United they politick: the ICC board at the Dubai conference © AFP

The ICC must believe it's possible to fool all of the people all of the time judging by their outlandish performance at the latest executive board meeting.

When Zimbabwe arrived for the ICC meeting, their two priorities would have been to retain their elite status vote and keep their full share of the ICC monies. Amazingly for a cricket body that has been under a cloud for the way it has administered the game and handled finances, Zimbabwe Cricket extracted exactly those promises from the meeting, and in addition they don't have to perform to get paid.

The ICC, or at least the Zimbabwe apologists among the board members, said before the meeting the objective was to keep the game alive in a country that has been raped and pillaged by a rogue president (though those last were not the words they used). The ICC's sentiment is laudable, but for some time now the problem has been the serious question mark over the way ZC has been distributing the funds allocated to it.

A recent independent audit indicated possible shady dealings by ZC, and reports filed by visiting journalists suggest the game's infrastructure has been neglected by local officials. Consequently, the statement by the ZC chairman, Peter Chingoka, "We have decided to pull out [of the Twenty20 World Cup] in the larger interests of the game," rings pretty hollow. More like they pulled out of the tournament to keep everyone happy on a board renowned for its politicking and power-broking, and in return ZC retained all its perks.

Ironically, the best way for Zimbabwe to recover its cricketing credibility is via the Twenty20 game. There is no way their standard of play is good enough for either Test or 50-over international cricket, but in last year's World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa they had a meritorious victory over Australia.

Still, it appears Zimbabwe won't go short of cricket in the future. Following the meeting Chingoka flaunted ZC's windfall when, after explaining the ICC decision only pertained to the tournament in England, he said, "We are now looking forward to more tours and international cricket with our Asian friends, especially India." And it sounds like he won't have any trouble gaining "official" status for those matches in return for his extremely tainted vote at the ICC.

As if the Zimbabwe charade wasn't enough for one meeting, the ICC excelled itself by also declaring the England victory over Pakistan at The Oval in 2006 has now been deemed a draw instead of a forfeit. After almost two years of acrimonious debate and legal posturing, the ICC executives declared that "in light of the unique set of circumstances the original result was felt to be inappropriate".

No matter how Pakistan feels they were wronged at The Oval - and there is some sympathy for them regarding the way the on-field matter was handled - there is no more appropriate punishment for a team that refuses to play on than to have the match awarded to their opponents

No matter in what way Pakistan feels they were wronged at The Oval - and there is some sympathy for them regarding the way the on-field matter was handled - there is no more appropriate punishment for a team that refuses to play on than to have the match awarded to their opponents.

Throughout the 129 years of Test cricket prior to the Oval, many teams have been wronged. And many more were angered over the way matters conspired to harm their chances of victory, but none ever refused to play on. In the end common sense always prevailed - until all sanity flew out of the Pakistan dressing room window at The Oval and they refused to play on. A forfeit was the only conclusion to be drawn from Pakistan's actions that day and only the ICC could come to any other decision.

The ICC's structure means it often doesn't react quickly to issues, and smouldering embers regularly turn into raging bushfires. The structure also encourages board executives to think of their country first and the game last and consequently the ICC has had a number of ignominious days in its chequered history. However, this latest meeting surpassed all their previous efforts and it now seems as though the only ones they are fooling is themselves.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on July 8, 2008, 23:55 GMT

    The_Wog, you're absolutely right! Miandad was out LBW more times in Pakistan than I thought. He played his first Test (vs NZ) in October 1976 and his last Test (vs Zimbabwe) in December 1993, beginning and ending his career at home in Pakistan. In 17 years of home Tests he was out LBW on eight (8) occasions. In his final series (vs Zim) he was out twice in this way. Brandes got him in Karachi (1st Test) and Brain got him in the 3rd at Lahore (the only time at Lahore). Of course, I'm not sure if this last one was a Test or a social game against the Thunderbirds. The first bowler to get lucky was Ratnayeke (Sri Lanka) at Sialkot in October 1985, a gap of nine (9) years since his debut. At the end he had clearly lost it. Out four (4) times LBW from November 1989 to the end in 1993. The subsequent successful bowlers were de Mel (SL, same series as "Rat"), Emburey (E), Reid (A), Pabhakar (Ind), Morrison (NZ) and, of course Brandes and Brain (Zim). As you suggested, I looked it up!

  • Gavin on July 8, 2008, 21:31 GMT

    ICC have shown they are unfit to run cricket.

    ICC's action in overruling the result of the England-Pakistan test sets a dangerous precedent and strikes me as illegal. What happens next time a team refuses to play on because they dispute an umpire's decision? Will the ICC cave into them?

    The laws of cricket seem very clear:

    21.3(a) A match shall be lost by a side which... (ii) in the opinion of the umpires refuses to play and the umpires shall award the match to the other side. 21.10 Once the umpires have agreed with the scorers the correctness of the scores at the conclusion of the match...the result cannot thereafter be changed

    So the result is not subject to review by the ICC or anybody else.

    Don't think Hair was right in his original ball tampering decision and don't think he should be umpiring at this level at all now, but he dealt with the refusal to play correctly and had no other option.

  • Manu on July 8, 2008, 18:45 GMT

    Jenkins Do you mean to say that sledging other players about their wives is ok but not McGrath about his wife? I mean what is the rationale you trying to give here.


  • Samuel on July 8, 2008, 14:54 GMT

    I have to say, I look forward to the day when the non-Asian teams leave behind the Asian ones and their facile, bickering, clueless fans. The sooner the teams who want to play by the rules leave behind the likes of Pakistan, the better. Hands up if you will miss discussing "cricket" with the generally vicious and unpleasant Pakistan fans? *points both hands firmly downwards!*

  • David on July 8, 2008, 12:40 GMT

    Sorcerer, see we do have something in common. A shared view of the merits of Inzy. He won't be missed. Anyone who noticed his selfish, appalling lack of team spirit during the World XI match in Sydney a couple of years ago would agree with you. He didn't bother the bowlers too much I can tell you, it looked like he wasn't interested. As for Greg Matthews you've got me there. Didn't see it and can't remember it. Mind you, if an umpire gave me out when a bowler held me back he'd have to wait a minute or two for me to extract the bat from the bowler's head. And I wouldn't expect to see him umpiring again any time soon either. I'm assuming a tangle as the two collided. Matthews is many things but a cheat is not one of them. In fact he has strong views on the traditions of the game although I'm sure he pushed at the boundaries occasionally. He played hard and did not lack confidence.

  • usman on July 8, 2008, 10:44 GMT

    Jenkins...ICC cleared Pak of ball-tampering and you had experts even from England who testified against "Hair" judgment. There was not an iota of evidence to support the outrageous act of Hair in calling Pak as cheats and he copped it big time as a result. Regarding Inzy, I agree he was an atrocious skipper and a dumb dictator too who was treated rightly in the end as he was thrown out of the team despite pleading "for a few more years" on TV shows and interviews post the last WC debacle. If anything that was a result and just desserts for him for he exercised sham piety and was a rank hypocrite and tempestuous individual. The fact that he had been punished by Pak's match-fixing inquiry commission some years ago should have obviated appointing such a shady character as the skipper of Pak in the first place! Anyhow, he is gone now and not fit even to commentate on TV with his hilarious style of rambling incoherent chat.

  • usman on July 8, 2008, 10:32 GMT

    Jenkins...I remember another amusing incident - this time involving Greg Matthews and Mudasser Nazar in an ODI in Sharjah in mid 80s. The bowler stopped the batsman from completing a run literally holding him by the shirt resulting in a run-out, and was merely all smiles when the batsman protested as he had to leave. Those were the days of no minimal cricket coverage and outrageous acts of transgression mainly from Aussie cricketers. It did not affect the result though of the match as Pak were cantering to victory.

  • usman on July 8, 2008, 10:26 GMT

    Well, it's moot whether Sikander following through too early can be construed as cheating or not, but the norms of warning by the bowler are definitely there, and I believe still practiced. Regarding McGrath's acts of provocation, really he himself was to blame for all that he had to endure. Once you start calling opposition batsmen as faggots, you really do not deserve any mercy. What the Asian teams of 70s and 80s had to put up with on a tour Downunder - utter abuse bordering on racial tinges too on occasions, it is not surprising now how they refuse to brook any nonsense given the days have arrived when Asian cricket muscle and clout is much bigger than those of other nations.

  • David on July 8, 2008, 10:22 GMT

    Sorcerer, may I now address the issue of the "official" clearance after (your words) an exhaustive investigation. This would be the same ICC which just cleared Zimbabwe of any ....... well, you know what I mean. I'm not sure we can actually trust the ICC to put the rubbish out let alone uncover any wrong doings by it's favored sons. What I don't understand is why India goes to so much trouble to protect Pakistan given the history. Pakistan must have some very interesting photographs is all I can imagine. How did Inzy ever become captain anyhow? That was the real mistake.

  • The on July 8, 2008, 10:11 GMT

    A bunch of people that seem to only ever watch one team. Sure, Hair has had problems with Asian teams. He's also had problems with AUS, NZ, RSA, ENG, ZIM (Flower) and WI. After 300 matches, you're going to. Umpires favor AUS?? Worst umpiring of the IND series was Rauf in Perth, and remember Dar in the Ashes series? (Martyn does!) No team but PAK has ever been accused of ball tampering? Tell that to Denness and Tendulkar. Chappell's never criticized Hair? He's pro-Murali! And calling chuckers from the bowlers end is the only way it can be done (either that or from the striker's position, which would presumably have got Hair more criticism). The MCC could have, but didn't, take that power away from the BEU. Oh, and Miandad was out LBW in PAK a lot more times than people thing - look it up.

  • No featured comments at the moment.