ICC News May 6, 2013

Board games show cricket's true powerplay

The elections to the ICC cricket committee are evidence cricket is a decadarchy, not a democracy. Tim May has paid the price for taking on the establishment

The ICC press release on the new members of the cricket committee said: "Kumar Sangakkara and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan were recently elected by a vote of the 10 Test captains, and will serve on the cricket committee for a three-year term from 2013-15."

Sangakkara's name was written in the text of the entire email - Helvetica, size 13. Sivaramakrishnan's name was written in Georgia, size 16. It looked out of place and was very hard to miss.

Sangakkara is stately and respected, and was a natural fit. The players' choice for their last representative on this committee was between Tim May and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.

May is the CEO of FICA, the players' union. He is more than its CEO: he was its very impetus for existing in the first place. Since 1997, he has fought for player rights with cricket boards. He has pushed for better security. He has been involved with care programmes for cricketers with emotional problems. And he has fought for better pay conditions, and even upfront pay, in haphazardly organised T20 tournaments.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan is a BCCI-contracted commentator.

So ten Test captains had the choice of who to vote for. They chose the commentator.

Perhaps the players who voted against May were sick of having an independent voice on the committee. Maybe what they really wanted was an inside man who had the ear of the king. I doubt Tim May can chat with N Srinivasan anytime he wants to. Sivaramakrishnan can.

That is democracy at work. When given two choices, the players voted with their conscience and picked the person they wanted to represent them. Of course the basic problem with democracy is that people can be stupid, selfish and easily manipulated. Not that this is a democratic situation anyway. The international players of the world don't vote on their Test captain; their Test captains are appointed by the boards themselves.

As ESPNcricinfo understands, the four votes for May were from his home country of Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand. All have strong unions and are part of FICA.

But what of the rest of the world?

The BCCI is always cast as the ogre in situations like this. But MS Dhoni was the only person who would have possibly voted for Sivaramakrishnan regardless of May's history. The Indian players have no union and are not involved with FICA, and with Sivaramakrishnan being so heavily involved with Chennai - the city, at the very least - you would assume he and Dhoni have a relationship.

Misbah-ul-Haq may have been swayed and may have also responded badly to May suggesting international players boycott the yet-to-actually-exist Pakistan Premier League.

The Bangladesh Premier League was given an almighty smacking by May for the fact that it regularly didn't pay its players, or paid them really late. That might have concerned the Bangladesh captain.

And Angelo Mathews might not have taken well to May also making a big deal out of the fact that players in the Sri Lankan Premier League were not paid on time.

Of course, it is more likely that these three votes were not by aggrieved players, but from their boards. Boards that have been embarrassed by May regularly (as he has the nerve to point out that there may be financial or security concerns) and who probably don't want him on an ICC committee.

Zimbabwe's is always a swing vote, and talking about it in any real sense would be a waste of time. With all the other votes being fairly obvious and predictable, the casting decision ultimately came down to Darren Sammy's West Indies vote, which went to Sivaramakrishnan.

Perhaps it is a play for power by some to control the message. Tim May is independent of all boards. In his role at FICA, there is probably no board he has not annoyed

That said, if cricket boards are involved, this is not a player vote. And the entire position should be scrapped immediately. It's not even like there are no other players on the committee. The entire committee is made up of former players, apart from Sangakkara. Anil Kumble, Dave Richardson, Andrew Strauss, Mark Taylor, Ravi Shastri, Trent Johnston, Clare Connor, Gary Kirsten, Ranjan Madugalle and John Stephenson are all there. They may have many different masters these days, but they are all players.

The ICC did instruct the boards not to interfere with the process, which is similar to when the ICC wanted politics out of cricket. It's a nice idea but spectacularly unpractical.

Perhaps these players voted on conscience. Perhaps their boards pushed them that way. But why would you want to twist any arms? What is the benefit you get from replacing May with Sivaramakrishnan?

There is talk, of course, that the BCCI is trying to stack the votes of the ICC cricket committee and that is why all these votes dramatically left May. It seems odd that the BCCI would stack this committee, given that they have full control of the two committees above it; giving Sivaramakrishnan a vote hardly changes the power dynamic of the committee. And even if it did, the vote would hardly matter.

The cricket committee unanimously recommended the use of the DRS in all Tests in 2011. In 2013, we still don't have that. We may not have it for years. So why stack a board that you ignore quite easily? That already has, as its chairman, a BCCI official in Anil Kumble and another paid BCCI commentator in Ravi Shastri, as a media representative?

If it's not about votes on this fairly unimportant and easily ignored committee, what is it about?

Perhaps it is a play for power by some to control the message. May is independent of all boards. In his role at FICA, there is probably no board he has not annoyed. His job is to get the best deal for the players.

May speaks his mind at all times. His job is to call out these boards. His job is to do what is best for the players. He is no board lackey or stooge but his own man who believed so much in players having a unified voice that he created one for them.

What better way to embarrass this man, and FICA itself, than to have him ousted from his ICC role as the player's representative by the same players he works for.

With that in mind, I wonder if all international players of 2012 would have picked Sivaramakrishnan over May if they were allowed to vote in a completely anonymous fashion. Not that a vote like that would ever be allowed to happen, it's nothing more than a naïve utopian dream.

In cricket, the power is never with the people who play or pay, but always with the boards. It's not a democracy, it's a decadarchy.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Luva on May 13, 2013, 19:06 GMT

    @timohyj Do you even know who Tim May is?

    Tests 24 45 6577 2606 75 5/9 7/50 34.74 2.37 87.6 3 3 0

    ODIs 47 46 2504 1772 39 3/19 3/19 45.43 4.24 64.2 0 0 0

    First-class 142 35668 15721 439 7/93 35.81 2.64 81.2 19 2

    List A 83 4482 3030 82 4/9 4/9 36.95 4.05 54.6 2 0 0

  • timothy on May 10, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    The writer does make some valid points, but I think what should be looked at here is that it was an election for a spot on the committee which suggests new rules and changes for the game. Thus, I think a former player would be more qualified than a players union guy

  • Khalil on May 8, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    Get over it May. You've been voted out thorough a democratic system, stop crying like a 5 year old boy. Go and find a coaching job at a local school..... and good luck!

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    This whole furore over the Cricket Committee election is ridiculous, firstly because we all know the CC has no real power anyway (look what happened to its recommendation that DRS be implemented universally, for example), secondly because anyone who fondly imagines that the international captains don't take direct orders from their boards anyway is fooling themselves, & thirdly because having *ex*-players as players' reps is absurd. Far better to have a couple of highly respected elder statesmen who are still active players instead. Sanga's an excellent choice. Personally, I'd go for Dhoni, Dan Vettori, Shakib-Al-Hasan or Graeme Smith as the second choice, but there are plenty of other excellent candidates available.

    @Meety: no point trying to debate on a rational basis with Harmony111, mate. Not to put too fine a point on it, the guy's about 35 sandwiches short of a picnic.

  • Harmon on May 8, 2013, 14:26 GMT


    The whole world knew Pak was unsafe for touring, Only your Tim May did not know, no need for a crystal ball there. As FICA Head, Tim May FAILED to ensure safety of the players. That is a BIG BIG FAILURE. You want such a man on the panel? The CT got out of Pak not because of May but cos it was inevitable. And oh a big LOL for the way you attribute IPL's security to Tim May even when May has no relevance in IPL.

    I asked you what May did for Malinga's rehab & you are giving me the thing about payment. It was neither SLB nor May who did anything for Malinga. It is an IPL Franchise MI that helped Malinga at that time. You know nothing and yet talk as if you are wiki 2.0

    Both of your comments are feeble and full of attempts to misappropriate anything good for May. your reply regarding Hussey is empty and a re-post of all that you had said earlier.

    You have just now proven that May did NOTHING actually and your attempt to rip me got you ripped instead :-)

  • RAJARAMAN on May 8, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Jumping to a conclusion that Siva will be ineffective is baseless ... if players wanted him, where is the objection? May may have good ideas but he has not delivered to the satisfaction of the players ... so players wanted a change ... let May continue to do the so called "good work" from outside ICC committee

  • Harmon on May 8, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    @Meety: Typing a few words with no real sense does not quite make a rebuttal. Your attempt to rip apart my comments is a dud. Not only is it woefully inadequate it is also nothing new. Who does not know about player burnout, ppl have been talking about it since WC 96. What was novel about Tim May's so called ppt? Is that all he could do? Even a class 9th student would know about burnout. As for your so called explanation for May's role in Gayle & KP dispute what exactly did May achieve? Gayle lost out on quite a few matches and had to reach an agreement on his own. KP too had to apologize and missed that crucial 3rd test vs SA. Why did May not assert himself there as FICA Head? He ought to have said that Gayle was a pro and had the right to earn money as he felt like. Instead, Gayle had to toe WICB's line. As for KP, how can a private conv be the ground of non-selection? May was a total failure there Meety.

    I quite enjoyed your feeble attempt...hilarious. Want a 2nd try?

  • Narayanan on May 8, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    The Indian cricket has been contributing more than any cricket playing nation in all forms of game. Any ICC event conducted in India has rich dividends to the game. Nowadays most of the international cricketers are playing in IPL. Many players have earned more than the fees paid by their Board. Even Boards receive a portion of players earnings from IPL. How can you expect players to go against BCCI. Even the four votes casted for May is due to the attachment and not for players welfare.

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    though i would not like to Siva to be included. reason simply that in small committee you have already 2 from india and offcourse both still BCCI employees Kumble & Ravi.

    But having said, i would also like to say that the voting system doesnt work like who is best. in voting system people vote who they want to vote. it can be personal favroutes or personal mindset.

    What i didnt liked is the thinking that democracy is good until it gets us vote but if it goes to other's way, its not good blah blah.

  • V. on May 8, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    What is the big deal here? Since Kerry Packer, the plight of the cricket players has improved tremendously, unlike some HOCKEY OLYMPIANs in India who have been spotted begging in trains or selling their GOLD MEDALs for petty amount. If anything, the players have become TOO greedy and demanding, forgetting the reason they took up the game in the first place! and if cricket is a business and players are 'professionals' then why blame ICC or BCCI?