Cricket South Africa has become the first national board to call for the ICC to withdraw the draft proposal that would put power in international cricket in the hands of India, England and Australia.
South Africa have been identified as the big losers in the potential changes, which, if adopted, could be viewed as a power grab by the three nations that bring most revenue into the international game. Calling the plans "in breach of the ICC constitution", CSA has now made its opposition clear.
The "position paper", drawn up by a working group of the ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs (F&CA) committee, is due to be put to the ICC Executive Board at its quarterly meeting in Dubai on January 28-29. The proposals would need seven votes out of ten to pass.
Despite South Africa's position as the No. 1-ranked Test side in the world, if the proposals were adopted, their projected share of future revenues at every stage would fall below than even that of the Pakistan board.
South Africa's relationship with India has declined markedly since they appointed Haroon Lorgat as chief executive of their own board. It was Lorgat, as ICC chief executive, who championed the Woolf report, which proposed placing the ICC in the hands of independent directors. Lorgat's subsequent feud saw him ousted at the ICC and cold-shouldered by the BCCI, which refused to deal with him as India undertook a much-reduced tour of South Africa last year.
CSA has now become the first board to publicly state its opposition to the ambush proposals, calling for a more consultative and "constitutionally ordained" process to take place.
The meeting on January 9, where Full Member boards were presented with the paper, was unscheduled and "came out of nowhere", according to the head of one board. Nazmul Hassan, president of the BCB, said that Bangladesh "can't doing anything on our own", while NZC director Martin Snedden suggested the BCCI-ECB-CA plans were not necessarily a bad thing for world cricket.
CSA responded in a statement, saying: "Without addressing the merits of the proposal insofar as it concerns constitutional amendments and changes to ICC competitions, these proposals should first be referred to the relevant ICC committees or sub‐committees for proper consideration and to make recommendations to the ICC Board."
The open letter, copied to ICC Full Members and media outlets, was written not by Lorgat, but by Chris Nenzani, CSA's president and board chairman, directed to ICC president Alan Isaac.
"Although there is nothing to prevent a review of the ICC funding model or finances, the proposal self-evidently is inextricably tied up with a fundamental restructuring of the ICC, which has far‐reaching constitutional implications," Nenzani said.
"The draft proposal is, therefore, fundamentally flawed as regards the process and, therefore, in breach of the ICC constitution.
"In the circumstances we propose that the draft proposal be withdrawn immediately, given that the proper procedures have not been followed.
"In our respectful opinion, a more considered, inclusive/consultative, and properly constitutionally ordained approach is required."
Isaac, a former chairman of the New Zealand board, whose business career involved 35 years with the global accounting firm KPMG, is now facing the most problematic task of a low-key term as ICC president. It is questionable whether he will welcome the attention. The presidential role will officially become a ceremonial role once he steps down in 2014 and he has already done much to hasten that transition.
Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association, had previously defined the document as, "concerning," saying it will have "significant implication for cricket, particularly for smaller countries of which South Africa is one - revenue wise."
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo