Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, the former India legspinner, has joined Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara as a players' representative on the ICC cricket committee, replacing the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) chief executive, Tim May*. Sivaramakrishnan, currently a commentator on Indian television, is learnt to have beaten May in a fiercely contested election that saw intense lobbying by both sides.
The ICC confirmed Sivaramakrishnan's appointment in a release on Monday, saying: "Sangakkara and 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." Former England captain Andrew Strauss has replaced Ian Bishop as 'Past Player representative', the release said. "Strauss is one of the two Past Player representatives (replacing Ian Bishop), while Sivaramakrishnan is one of the two Current Player representatives (replacing Tim May). The other Current Player representative is former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, who has been on the committee since 2007."
Based on nominations received by it, the ICC board had proposed three names - those of Sangakkara, May and Sivaramakrishnan - for the two players' representative positions. Sangakkara, sole current player, is expected to be elected unanimously while Sivaramakrishnan is believed to have received six of the ten votes in the other slot, for former players. The representatives are elected by the captains of the ten Test-playing countries, who cast their votes in a secret online ballot.
Sivaramakrishnan had been backed by the BCCI, which, ESPNcricinfo has confirmed, contacted at least one other member country "requesting" support. He is also believed to have been backed by one more country, independent of the BCCI. Incidentally, though he has been elected as a players' representative, India has no recognised players' association.
May, the former Australia offspinner, has been the public voice of players' concerns globally since establishing FICA in 1998. He was, however, handicapped by the fact that FICA is recognised by only five Full Members of the ICC: Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies, the first four of whom are understood to have supported his nomination.
Apart from FICA's limited global influence, one factor that is believed to have gone against May was his sustained criticism of the running of Twenty20 tournaments including the IPL, Sri Lankan Premier League and the Bangladesh Premier League. It is believed that this won him few friends on the Asian boards.
Tony Irish, the chief executive of the South African players association, criticised the BCCI's interventionist approach to the election process. "It's a sad day for the governance of cricket when players aren't allowed to freely elect their representatives," Irish was quoted as saying. "Cricket is a global game and the decisions that are made should be global decisions for the benefit of the global game, not for the benefit of one country, whichever country that is."
However, a member of a board that voted for Sivaramakrishnan contested that view. "It is disingenuous for FICA or its supporters to protest because in an election, candidates canvas votes and FICA did the same thing on Tim May's behalf. The fact is that May didn't have the support of many captains and that showed in the votes. Suggestions that May had the support of nine captains to start with are completely baseless."
The ICC cricket committee is a leading decision-maker for the game's governing body in on-field matters, including playing conditions such as the use of the DRS to review umpiring decisions. It is headed by Anil Kumble, the former Indian captain, and includes Andrew Strauss and Mark Taylor (past players), Gary Kirsten (Full Member team coach representative), David White (Member board representative), Steve Davis (umpires' representative), Ranjan Madugalle (match referees' representative), John Stephenson (MCC representative), David Kendix (statistician), Trent Johnston (Associate representative), Ravi Shastri (media representative) and Clare Connor (women's representative).
*06.10GMT, May 6: The article has been updated after the ICC confirmed the appointments