The ICC will confirm the hosts for four marquee women's global events
in the 2023-27 period during their annual conference starting in Birmingham this weekend. The four tournaments feature two T20 World Cups, one 50-over World Cup and one T20 Champions Trophy, which were part of the half a dozen events the ICC recently finalised as part of the women's rights, which for the first time will be sold separately from men's rights
The host venues for the women's events will be finalised by a working group comprising ICC directors who will arrive at a shortlist from the bids received. ESPNcricinfo has learned that ICC has received 16 proposals from seven countries for the four events.
Based on the recommendations of the working group - comprising former New Zealand fast bowler Martin Snedden who is also chairman of New Zealand Cricket, former India captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, Cricket West Indies' president Ricky Skerritt and former England women's captain Clare Connor who is also the acting ECB CEO - the ICC will take the final call at the meeting on July 26. The annual conference will begin with the Chief Executives Committee (CEC) meeting on July 24 followed by the Finance & Commercial Affairs committee meeting on July 25, and will end with the annual general meeting which follows the board meeting.
Unlike in the previous cycles when women's rights were sold as part of the consolidated rights package, the ICC has decided to unbundle the rights for men's and women's events and sell them in different territories separately. There are a total of 103 matches across the six women's events with the rights being sold for three packages - TV, digital, TV and digital combined - for four years. The aim was to maximise the financial returns, and, as part of the new plan the ICC has also decided to sell the TV and digital rights separately. Accordingly, a rights tender for men's events for the Indian market, the most lucrative territory, went on sale recently with successful bids to be announced in early September.
T20 Leagues vs international cricket
One of the key discussions the CEC could potentially discuss involves the primacy of international cricket and whether it is under threat from the growing number of domestic T20 leagues
. In the near-completed version of the ICC's next cycle of FTP (2023-27)
, the IPL has got an extended two-and-a-half-month window and Hundred and BBL also have home-season windows.
While ICC has no direct role to play considering it is the member countries that decide on both the bilateral series as well as T20 league windows, at least one Full Member has expressed concern in public over the international calendar being encroached on by the franchise-based tournaments. Recently the PCB wrote a letter to ICC
saying it was a "little concerned that the proliferation of domestic leagues around the world is sucking time out of the international calendar" and requested a working group to be formed to address the issue.
ICC also likely to discuss Afghanistan's future
Another important discussion the ICC is likely to take up is the future of Afghanistan cricket. Last year, after the Taliban took charge of Afghanistan, the board formed a working group
to observe and review cricket in the war-torn country. A key part of the working group's brief was to understand whether the women's cricket was indeed in "peril"
as former Afghanistan Cricket Board Hamid Shinwari told ESPNcricinfo last year.
Doubts over Afghanistan's future
in international cricket emerged last September, when the deputy head of Taliban's cultural commission Ahmadullah Wasiq, told SBS News
that it wasn't "necessary" for women to play cricket because "they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered." Cricket Australia even postponed the Test match
against Afghanistan, which was scheduled for Hobart last November, following the stance.
Afghanistan became a Full Member of the ICC in 2017 despite not having a national women's team. team. At the time ICC had made the exemption subject to ACB investing in the development of women's sport. In November 2020 the ACB had pledged to offer 25 women's players contracts
with aim of developing their game, but Tailban's arrival halted all the progress.
The ICC working group on Afghanistan is chaired by Imran Khwaja, Ross McCollum, Lawson Naidoo and Ramiz Raja, and the panel is set to update the board.
The conference agenda also includes finalising the process for the ICC chairman election, which is likely to take place in November when the current chair Greg Barclay's first term ends. Apart from this, the members are also set to iron out FTP further, and a final version is expected only post the annual conference.