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04 October 2023

ICC are doing just fine – given the circumstances

By Joy Chakravarty

The International Cricket Council (ICC) – everybody’s favourite punching bag – has taken a few more knocks... again. As expected, after its two-day executive board meeting, the world governing body of cricket came out blue, black and yellow – from the yolk of all the egg it had accumulated on its face.


This time, it was hammered over the appointment of the new CEO – or rather, the non-appointment of India’s IS Bindra as the CEO – and the reinstatement of umpire Darrell Hair on its elite panel.


Let’s face it, given that only 10 nations play any meaningful form of cricket, ICC will never become a Fifa, or an IOC. Its membership list looks impressive – totalling 101 – but the day Brazil or Swaziland start having a voice, will also be the day when ICC will start having some bite.


Until then, the ICC will remain toothless, but only because its arms are constantly being twisted by the full members.


Unlike my journalist brethren, I think the ICC is doing an excellent job of balancing, given the circumstances it faces. Because there are just 10 full members, they are unable to take on even a country like Zimbabwe, which has invaluable voting power. So, instead of blaming ICC for all that is wrong with world cricket, we really need to question the individual boards.


Take the appointment of Bindra as the first-ever Principal Advisor of the ICC. There are members who wanted him to replace Malcolm Speed as the next chief executive, and then there were some who did not. So, a new post, which hopefully makes use of Bindra’s immense organisational skills, seems the best way out.


Having said that, I did not see many articles praising ICC’s final choice of Imtiaz Patel as the CEO. By all accounts, Patel seems a perfect candidate, given his administration background in uniting the various South African boards, and his current role as the SuperSport boss. Let’s not forget that television is, and will, remain the biggest revenue source for any sport.


As for Hair, with all due respect to his abilities, he can thank the Australian board for getting his job back.


It’s just sad that Speed, or Patel, will never have the kind of clout that is enjoyed by someone like Bernie Ecclestone, who can threaten Australia to have a night race, or no race; or demand Silverstone to upgrade its facilities, or risk losing the British Grand Prix; or just pull the plug on the US Grand Prix.


With so many nations clamouring to get a piece of F1 action, Bernie can do that.

But can you imagine Patel pulling up the BCCI for the various sub-standard cricket stadiums in which they host international matches? If he does, I think I will urgently require some smelling salts.