All hail cricket's bright future

There are advantages to the proposed restructuring of the ICC (and we're not talking only about savings on furniture)

Andrew Hughes

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As any general will tell you, staging a coup is a tricky business. It's one of the five most stressful things a human being can do, along with moving house, getting a divorce, planning a dinner party for people you don't really like but who, for some reason or other, you have no choice but to try to impress, and supporting Worcestershire.

First, there's the invites to consider. You've got to invite enough people to make it a proper coup - there's nothing worse than turning up in your tank to find it's just you, your cousin, and your old friend from school who was between jobs. Then there's the logistics of the thing: who has to be where at what time, whose job is it to blow up the airfield, who's on assassination duty, who's bringing the snacks and so on.

So no one undertakes a coup lightly, even an administrative coup, like the one underway at the ICC. As we speak, BCCI tanks are parked on the finely manicured lawns of ICC HQ, a crack commando unit of ECB bureaucrats has infiltrated the building and is planting booby traps in David Richardson's spreadsheets, and James Sutherland's grandmother has embroidered a new post-coup ICC flag, featuring three lions squabbling with a kangaroo inside a giant blue circle.

All of this took a lot of planning, so it's rather disrespectful, not to say hurtful, that the efforts of these three boards should have been met with such criticism. Let's face it, cricket is in chaos. Right now, a dozen or so countries are collaborating to run it badly, so why not streamline the whole business and have just three countries run it badly? At least there'll be a saving on translators.

With the creation of the new Supreme High Cricket Command, the ICC will also save a considerable sum on upholstery costs and furniture polish, since only three chairs will be needed. Occasionally a representative of one of the minor cricket nations - such as South Africa - will be invited to attend board meetings, but they will be expected to provide their own chair, or preferably to sit quietly in the corner.

But the benefits that will accrue from this cricket coup go far beyond furniture rationalisation. With cricket's leading abbreviations firmly in control, the sport can enjoy a golden age of popularity in which the current ramshackle arrangement whereby most teams play most other teams fairly often will be swept away and replaced with the following:

1. A Premier Exclusive League, which may feature, for example, India, Australia and England. Critics have complained that there will be no relegation from this league, but they are wrong. Any of these teams could be relegated, if their countries are invaded and occupied by aliens or in the event of a unanimous vote to relegate by the Relegation Committee (made up of representatives from England, Australia, and India).

2. A Bitterly Resentful Reserve Section, including South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who will compete annually for the right to be denied access to the top division on the grounds that their crowds are too small, their players too ugly, their flags not appealing, or their accents too guttural.

3. An Utterly Obscure Charity League, featuring West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Guernsey U-19s, the cast of the musical Rent - currently performing at the Hippodrome, Hastings - and anyone else who can get a team together. This will help widen the base of international cricket, even though no one will ever watch any of the games and we probably won't write down the results.

With these changes in place, our sport can march boldly into a lucrative and successful future (unless you don't live in England, Australia or India, in which case I recommend you switch to a different, more popular and financially viable sport, such as crown-green bowling, politician-baiting or cockroach-racing).

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by Simon on (January 25, 2014, 1:59 GMT)

Oh dear, the Empire Strikes Back!

Not at all dissimilar to the way the Pakistan Board 'elects' new members. Get on the right side and you get to sit next to the Captain on the team bus. Get on the wrong side and you get to sit next to Afridi on the next bus out of town!

Posted by Tarik on (January 23, 2014, 22:10 GMT)

Cricket will be over as we know it. It will only played between the big three while the remaining countries now need another sport to shine at. Can't believe India is so self serving, power hungry, and greedy along with Aus and Eng too.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 23, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

Now every country will play to trash India. Indians will watch and hope but will leave the sport after a while. Suddenly the world will be a better place and Australia and England who will be not easy to trash, will go join the ROW. Artificial pitches, better balls, grand stadiums and a super duper fast game will replace the current version. Yes the traditional matches will exist. India will crib as they will play a match against Argentina, Belgium Mexico and S Korea to try and qualify. If this sounds like Hockey - then it is. Learn your lesson. Don't kill the game.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 23, 2014, 11:02 GMT)

The point, for the morons on here who don't understand, is that the changes being proposed will actually be detrimental to England, Australia and India in the long run. It will weaken the other cricketing nations creating less competitive cricket which in turn will reduce the ability of the "big three" to generate tv and gate revenue. The idea that a sport like cricket can survive with just 3 strong sides competing is completely and utterly insane and the press coverage has been spot on by pointing this out. This is not business this is sports administration and the policies and frame works should be based on improving the global game not making money for an elite few.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 23, 2014, 10:10 GMT)

It's really sad and atrocious to give too much importance to only three nations, keeping other big playing nations like WI, SA, NZ, SL & Pak. at bay. It's not fair and may ruin the great game in the long run. Give equal status and importance to almost all cricket playing Nations for the good of the game. According to the Great legendary Sir Gary Sobers "Whichever Nation plays, the game should be the ultimate winner" like that all cricket playing Nations should be treated at par for the survival of the game. I hope, ICC will reconsider it's decision in the interest of the game.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 23, 2014, 8:58 GMT)

It's just not cricket :)

... Can't these three just rename cricket let the other boards carry on with status quo!

Posted by Bala on (January 23, 2014, 8:20 GMT)

Salazar555: Test cricket at present is only profitable in exactly two countries, and one of them needs to import half of their playing XI. The remaining 8 countries only make up their finances from short form cricket. The reasons may vary from political disturbance to economics to population size to interest levels. However, that is how it is. Moreover, who can match the Barmy Army, who actually travel with the team to watch Test matches? The solution to Test cricket should reside in Test cricket, not in ostracizing the teams that have smaller support bases and ar still trying to compete at the highest level. The solution probably lies in more Tests and A Tours at the Board level and more cricketing scholarships at the developmental level. Just a thought, where would Indian cricket be today without the MRF Pace Foundation and the India-Australia Young Player Scholarship?

Posted by YOGENDRA on (January 23, 2014, 4:53 GMT)

Can anybody tell us how much WI and NZ made from the WI tour of NZ and how much India and NZ are making from the tour of India to NZ?

Posted by dexter on (January 23, 2014, 2:54 GMT)

The sport of cricket has been around since the 18th century and yet with all its history it still has not been able to make an impact in any of the wealthy economies of the world. Apart from Australia, England and maybe India the game has done little to nothing to make a mark in developing wealthy countries like China, USA, Japan etc. Just look at the latest nations that have gained ICC status in the sport and u get a very clear image of how big a failure the ICC has been as a body and how poorly they are at promoting and commercialise the sport. Afghanistan, Kenya, The Netherlands, what kind of economy do these nations have to make a real mark on the sport and probably turn over any kind of financial profit that will assure their sustainability for the future years to come. The thinking behind the sport is full of such confusing, and I believe it has reached its boiling point to where the ICC as a body is just ready to throw in the towel hence the reason for the current decision.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 23, 2014, 2:03 GMT)

I really don't understand why so many are cribbing about this.Its stands to reason that the three main boards that generate the most income should have the major control.Stop cribbing.Grin and put up with it or walk out.All animals are equal,but some animals are more equal...ha ha ha..that's life!!!

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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Andrew Hughes Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73
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