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India-backed ICC plan under fire from former cricket chiefs ahead of Dubai meeting

Shaiman Anwar of UAE bats during the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier match between UAE and Nepal on January 13, 2014 in Rangiora, New Zealand. (IDI via Getty Images)


Former cricket chiefs on Sunday attacked the International Cricket Council's (ICC) proposal for greater decision-making powers for a three-strong group of the Board of Control for Cricket.

The trio concerned are India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board, who between them represent the game's wealthiest nations.

The ICC are due to discuss the controversial plan, which has been drafted because of an apparent threat by India to withdraw from major global events unless there is radical reform of the ICC, in Dubai on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, a growing number of respected former cricket chiefs have expressed their alarm at such moves, which would also include a two tier Test league with Australia, India and England being protected from relegation owing to their financial weight.

Pakistan's former ICC president Ehsan Mani has written a letter to the ICC, which significantly has been co-signed by Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Gray formerly high up in the Australian cricket administration and then respectively chief executive and president of the ICC, saying the paper needed to be withdrawn.

Instead he and the other signatories, which also include former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, agreed the ICC needed to re-examine the conclusions of the 2012 Woolf Report into ICC governance, which recommended, among other things, an improvement in governance standards, the appointment of independent board directors and greater transparency.

Mani estimated that if the draft was given the thumbs up the loss in projected revenue to Associate and Affiliate Members would be more than $312 million, an amount that would instead be redistributed largely to the boards of India, Australia and England.

“The biggest gainers are BCCI, ECB and CA,” Mani wrote.

“In addition, ICC events for the period 2015-2023 will be held only in India, England and Australia.

“These Boards will receive hosting fees for the events in addition to the ICC Distributions they propose.

“A point that also needs to be addressed is; why does BCCI need more money at the expense of other countries?

“The domestic and international media fees that BCCI receives from playing with other members are massive and underpin BCCI's financial position.

“It is the richest cricket board in the world.

“If cricket is to grow and develop around the world more investment is required in the Associate & Affiliate countries, not less.

“The Associate & Affiliate countries represent some of the biggest economies in the world.

“If cricket could be established properly in the United States of America and China and become an Olympic sport, the ICC could double its revenues in real terms over the next 10-15 years.

“This requires vision and a less parochial approach.”

Ali Bacher, who was managing director of the then United Cricket Board (now Cricket South Africa) from 1991 to 2001 and tournament director of the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, added his powerful voice to those of Mani and Speed in arguing for a more prudent approach to be taken.

The 71-year-old former South African Test captain wrote a letter to present ICC president Alan Isaac saying that cricket risked being torn apart if the proposal went through.

“The Position Paper put forward by BCCI, ECB and CA if accepted would lead to division and strife in world cricket as never seen before,” he wrote.

“ICC member countries should never forget the animosity that existed particularly in the Sub-continent and the Caribbean when England and Australia had veto rights prior to 1993.

“I am therefore associating myself with the sentiments expressed by former ICC President Mr Ehsan Mani in his critique of the Position Paper where he espoused the recommendations of the Woolf Review.”

Bacher told AFP that Mani had left no stone unturned in his perusal of the proposal.

“A lot has happened in the last 24 hours. I have got enormous respect for Ehsan Mani and he has made a thorough assessment of the position paper.”