July 3, 2011

Who's the ICC fooling?

It's laughable that cricket's global body asks its member boards to democratise when it is itself politically manipulated by the BCCI to make confusing compromises

In the sixties, Australian writer Hugh Lunn produced a lively story set in Hong Kong called Spies Like Us. The ICC's directors must have heard of it. The recently concluded board meeting in Hong Kong was full of moves a secretive spook would have been proud of: a furtive dart in this direction and then quickly doubling back to see who might be following.

So who is the ICC trying to throw off the scent?

Their original plan to hold a ten-team World Cup in 2015 had already ridden out formidable flak from the Associate members. Why did they need to do an about-turn and return it to a 14-team event, the same as it was for the overly long 2011 World Cup? All they needed to do was add a qualifying tournament to decide the last two teams so that all 10 spots didn't automatically go to the Test-playing nations.

Then in the classic double-back move they teach at spy school, the ICC decided to reduce the World Twenty20 from 16 to 12 teams in both the 2012 and 2014 tournaments. The Twenty20 format is the sport's best opportunity to globalise the game and extend the reach of cricket. It's also the one that can be completed in an acceptable time span, so the players aren't sitting around twiddling their thumbs for long intervals. Twenty20 is also the one chance cricket has to escape the suffocating effect of total dependence on India's wealth to finance the game.

And what did the ICC do? They effectively stifled those opportunities, at least in the short term. This is the classic case of a spy who becomes so paranoid he reaches the point of only fooling himself.

Not satisfied, they then, in an act of unbelievable hubris, asked all the member boards to free themselves from political interference by the end of 2012. It's not that this move isn't welcome; on the contrary, it's long overdue. It's just that the previous day the ICC had conjured up conclusions on both the Decision Review System (DRS) and the Future Tour Programme (FTP) that were classics of expedient compromise, the favourite tool of politicians everywhere.

Instead of insisting on important changes to the DRS, like the ICC having full control over operating the system, and also placing the reviews totally in the hands of the umpires, the BCCI opted for an ineffective and confusing compromise. Why? Presumably to avoid being forced to play one-sided and financially draining Test series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the new FTP.

Neither of those two nations should be playing Test matches against any country. Instead, they should be competing on a second-tier level with other Associate nations and the stronger A teams in order to improve and provide ample proof they deserve to be elevated to Test status.

And finally there was the important issue of the ICC presidency. Instead of voting to eradicate the public-service-style system of rotating presidents in favour of choosing the best person for the job, this issue has been put on hold for a few more months. Why? Presumably to give the members a chance to hammer out another confusing compromise.

In part of an ICC statement issued following the resolution to de-politicise the individual boards, the CEO, Haroon Lorgat, said: "[…] that through a democratic election process you get the right people to run the sport in the country." Why then wouldn't the ICC set an example and do exactly that when appointing their president?

What with all the efforts to placate India and the obsession with power-broking, the ICC has become the most politicised of all cricketing bodies. Too bad more people aren't actually spying on the ICC in an effort to make them more accountable.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

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  • Jasdev on July 6, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    Though i feel good being an indian that icc is run by bcci, however, dont forget that before india, it aus & eng etc who used to rule icc. it is just that the performance of india got better, peoples interest increased in the game, more sponsors, more revenue and so on from india.. thus a chain reaction.. however, dont forget nothing is permanent.. icc has few years back also ridiculed india about their not so good performance but still trying to muscle through revenue power.. so its about who is performing and who is bringing revenue.. ultimately icc is a cost centre..

    at the same time i feel that india should adhere to all the icc rules like drs etc as it is an advanced technology and a forward looking initiative which will take cricket to further heights. evaluating historical drs non-implementation advantage through wrong umpire decision in favor of india is a passive step.. we should be bold enough to take it in its current form

  • Rakesh on July 6, 2011, 0:07 GMT

    Agree with most which Ian Chappel said.However his opinion of having just 10 teams for 50 Over WC does not make sense. Ideal is 12 teams. If last 2 spots of 10 team wc go for qualifyingthan these last 2 teams will have undue advantage while playing associates due to the fact that team like Bangladesh plays year round against strong team to get match practice which they will use against fresh Associates without these experience. For cricket to spread T20 must be included in Olympics Period.

  • Dummy4 on July 5, 2011, 18:45 GMT

    I do go with chaplie... but not sure if all these things are due to BCCI or only partly

  • Samir on July 5, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    i think they should select Ian Chappell as ICC president as he is trying to show that he can run ICC better than anyone else. Cricket fans from Sri lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan should understand one thing if power goes back to australia and england...they would kill the subcontinent cricket for sure, They have always use devide and rule policy....now they turning all other subcontinent countries against India....Its a shame thatl Its not about cricket anymore...its all about who's got power. Just like aus and england lost their power...i am sure soon or later India won't be in the position to dectate their own terms for long. Someone else would be doing the same at that time....Look at America who has power and what they doing to the rest of the world....

  • Jay on July 5, 2011, 11:29 GMT

    Who's Ian Chappell fooling? Fortune-teller to spy-story teller - with his usual half-baked theories & false prophecies, and now "double-back moves"! Let's get a few things straight: (1) Ian should get his spies to check out how desperately Australia tried - with CA's divisive politics - to get John Howard to succeed Sharad Pawar as ICC's CEO! Physician, Heal thyself first! (2) Ian should stop staring in the rear-view mirror: the England-Australia duopoly is long dead. Re: ICC, their recent decisions were debated & voted on: It's a democratic process - a consensus. CA is part of it as much as BCCI. Chappell's my-way-or-highway style won't work in ICC! (3) Ian should know that cricket is the 2nd most popular team sport in the world. So, what's this "globalise" sermon? Everyone knows ICC's plate of activities is over-flowing, and its resources & finances spread too thin. And Ian wants to expand it? Who's he fooling? For sure, Ian's getting bad advice from his "paranoid" spy-friends!

  • Dummy4 on July 5, 2011, 11:16 GMT

    if this is what a some one like ian says this sport will never move ahead icc should actually include more teams to play tests with stronger nations . the boards will talk bullcrap and so will the heads but if this gonna keep happening cricket will only have 10 main teams for the next 100 years or till 2012, its like saying okay lets not let japan play with brazil in the soccer worldcup as they are strong ..

    ian chappell i just feel ur fooling ur self .

  • Enamul on July 5, 2011, 10:16 GMT

    boston_pride@ In this case why not NZ,WI also do play with Ban,Zim,Ire and Canada and qualify for the WC?? if they are so strong team what they are affraid of ???

  • Nandakumar on July 5, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    you glib-tonged ozzie Ian, you were happy when your ozzie board together with the so called "superior" england were hegemonious putting their say over how cricket was to be run... now, your ozzie & english boards are whimpering like wounded wolves... have you also forgotten that the ozzie & english boards had in those days 2 votes each in ICC, whereas the other representatives had one vote each... ?? so lopsided it was... pls learn to accept that ICC is now a global body and the power center is no more with oz-eng combo... ozzie teams used to impose themselves by practising cheap acts of sledging on the opponent teams' players, but they couldn't stand it when other teams started given them back a piece of their tongue...!! let the global body function now and as we go by time, this institution will be more democratized & improved...

  • Thiwanka on July 4, 2011, 17:24 GMT

    This is like a Politics :(

  • V.L on July 4, 2011, 13:36 GMT

    @MrGarreth Hardly beating WI? Our second string team(without 8 first choice players) wrapped up the ODI series in 3 games, won the only T20 , won the first test by 63 runs and are the verge of wrapping it up in style. May be its not good as some team losing every worldcup knockout game they have played, but I think they did OK!

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