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25 February 2024

Bangladesh protests ICC's two-tier Test plan

Bangladeshi batsman Tamim Iqbal leaves the field after being dismissed during the third day of the first Test match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on January 29, 2014. (AFP)

By Agencies

Bangladesh cricket has formally protested plans to shake up the world game, while Sri Lanka has demanded more discussions on the issue at the ICC meeting, officials said Wednesday.

A Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman said it was strongly opposed to a discussion paper circulated at an International Cricket Council (ICC) two-day meeting in Dubai that proposes a two-tier Test system.

"Bangladesh became the first country to formally protest the controversial two-tier system. We opposed because we don't want to play in the second tier," spokesman Jalal Yunus said in Dhaka.

The ICC was discussing a proposal to give the sport's most financially powerful 'Big Three' nations of India, England and Australia a greater say in the running of the world game.

There is also a plan to create two divisions for Test cricket but with England, Australia and India all guaranteed to avoid relegation from the top tier because of their commercial importance.

Yunus said this last plan had been ditched following discussions at the ICC meeting.

"The ICC has shelved the controversial plan and definitely it was a major victory for us," he told AFP.

Many former players and administrators - and even anti-corruption campaigners - have voiced dismay at the plans.

But supporters argue they would free boards from "unviable" tours and would allow the teams outside the 'Big Three' to become more financially self-sufficient.

A Sri Lankan cricket source said Sri Lanka was supporting South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh in opposing the proposals in Dubai to give the 'Big Three' nations a greater say in the running of the world game.

The Sri Lankan source also rejected ICC suggestions from Dubai that there was "unanimous support" for the plans to change the world game's structure and governance.

"We were surprised by this statement because as far as Sri Lanka is concerned there was no unanimity on this," the source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said in Colombo.

Sri Lanka Cricket refused to officially confirm its opposition, saying in a statement only that its president has asked for more discussions.

"SLC President Jayantha Dharmadasa informed the ICC of the need for further discussions on the matter pertaining to the revised position papers with the (ICC) Executive Committee prior to arriving at a decision in this regard," the statement said.

However, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Wednesday dismissed fears it will miss out under a proposed shake-up of the world game, with board member Martin Snedden saying the deal was "pretty good" for the organisation.

Snedden, in Dubai representing New Zealand at an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting discussing the game's structure and governance, said NZC's finances would receive a significant boost under the plan put forward by India, England and Australia.

He also assured fans the Black Caps' playing schedule would not be weakened if the changes were adopted, saying New Zealand had negotiated a strong touring programme with the so-called 'Big Three' covering all formats of the game.

"There was a lot of speculation in the media last week that we would get some crumbs from the big guys and just end up playing mainly the small guys," he told New Zealand's Radio LiveSport.

"That's not going to happen. We've locked in good commitments from Australia, England and India through that 10-year period (to 2023)."

Snedden said the playing schedule was essentially the same as that outlined under the ICC's Future Tours Programme, which the governing body has agreed to scrap.

He said NZC was set to receive revenues of US$70-100 million from the ICC between 2015 and 2023 under the planned reforms, compared to the US$52 million it had received in the past eight years.

"Things have come a long way from where they started," he said. "Where they're sitting right now, they're looking pretty good for us."

The impetus for change has largely come from India, which generates 80 percent of ICC revenue.

The ICC meeting wrapped up in Dubai on Tuesday with the governing body saying it has "unanimous support" for the principles behind the planned changes, which would give India, England and Australia a greater say in the running of the world game.

The ICC said it was planning another meeting in February to work out details of the new structure.