The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) claims it has evidence of captains being pressured by their boards to change their votes from Tim May to Laxman Sivaramakrishnan during the vote for player representatives on the ICC cricket committee in May. FICA has confirmed it will refer the matter to the ICC ethics officer for investigation after waiting in vain for the ICC to do so.
The ICC responded with a statement expressing its "anger and disappointment" at what it described as FICA's "confrontational stance". It denied claims of inaction made by Paul Marsh, the new executive chairman of FICA, and said that there had in fact been "several weeks of discussions" between the two bodies.
At the vote in early May, Sivaramakrishnan was elected to the committee ahead of the incumbent, May, who subsequently stepped down as chief executive of FICA. However, the voting process was strongly criticised at the time by FICA and Marsh has said that it will refer the matter for investigation.
"FICA has tried all we can to get the ICC to refer this matter to the ethics officer themselves, however after more than six weeks of no action we are left with no choice but to refer the matter ourselves," Marsh said. "We have evidence of captains being pressured by their boards into changing their votes away from the incumbent player representative on the committee Tim May, in favour of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and we will present this to the ethics officer.
"The evidence is strong and we expect it to be acted upon. It is extremely concerning and disappointing that the governing body of our sport has refused to follow its own processes for dealing with allegations of unethical behaviour.
"Sadly this is yet another example of the poor governance practices that exist in cricket. The ICC should be taking these allegations incredibly seriously but instead they are ignoring the processes under their own code and hoping the matter will go away."
Late on Thursday, however, the ICC issued a statement condemning FICA's course of action, saying it had been under the impression that a meeting between senior ICC executives and board members and FICA's chief operating officer, Ian Smith, on Tuesday had progressed to the satisfaction of both parties.
"It was mutually agreed with the FICA representative that major progress had been made to resolve any perceived deficiencies in the ICC cricket committee election system and we believed that, at the end of the meeting, we were close to reaching an outcome that was acceptable to the players and their representatives," the statement read.
"Sadly, within no more than 48 hours of those constructive talks - without reverting to the ICC - FICA's executive chairman chose to issue an emotive press release, which we believe was a breach of trust of the processes and protocols agreed at the London discussions. We also believe that this confrontational approach is not in the best interests of the game or the players worldwide, who perform so admirably in all formats.
"ICC are angry and disappointed that Mr Marsh chose to notify ICC of this change of direction only at 1.31am UK time on Thursday and then issued their misleading statement at 4.30am on the same day - when all board members and executives, in London for ICC annual conference, were asleep. These actions do not reflect the spirit in which ICC and, we believed, FICA entered into what appeared to be meaningful and productive dialogue nor reflect a willingness to work together to provide a satisfactory conclusion to this issue."
The FICA board met in London last week and decided on its course of action, and also put together a document it called a "Statement of Unity" that was signed by all players from Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies who played in the Champions Trophy. FICA has sent a copy of the statement to the ICC.
"We, the players, are privileged to represent our countries at the highest level at ICC events and in bilateral Test, ODI and T20 cricket," the statement said. "We are committed to upholding the traditions of the game, and to maintaining the highest standards of sportsmanship and integrity. In return, we expect to enjoy the right to collective representation through player associations, a right enjoyed by the players of every professional team sport worldwide.
"We support FICA as the voice of professional cricketers everywhere, and expect it to receive due recognition and respect by the ICC and our respective boards as it plays its role in representing our interests. We further expect cricket's administrators to ensure our great game is managed off the field to the same high standards of dignity and integrity as those to which we are committed."