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05 December 2023

Sri Lanka Cricket feels 'let down' by South Africa vote

By Agencies

Sri Lanka has defended its decision to tacitly support a controversial shakeup of cricket's world body, saying it was left with no choice after South Africa broke ranks over the move.

Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa all opposed the revamp of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) governance and structure when it was debated last month.

But Sri Lanka decided to abstain from voting on the move during an ICC board meeting on Saturday, along with Pakistan, after South Africa switched to vote in favour.

Eight of ten Test nations in total approved the plans, despite concerns it gives too much power to the 'Big Three' of India, England and Australia.

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage accused South Africa of letting Sri Lanka down at the ICC meeting held in Singapore, saying “we had no choice but to abstain”.

“We were banking on South Africa's opposition,” the minister told reporters in Colombo on Monday.

“When Haroon Lorgat (of South Africa) said they were backing the proposals, we had no choice but to abstain.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said “considering the circumstances it was the most appropriate” move.

Pakistan has already said it felt cheated by South Africa over its reversal to support the wide-ranging restructuring.

Under the revamp, India - which contributes 80 percent of global revenues - and fellow powerhouses England and Australia will have permanent seats on a new, five-member executive committee.

The Future Tours Programme, designed to guarantee series for all Test teams, will be changed with a series of binding, bilateral agreements to be struck between members.

Sri Lanka had previously described the proposed moves as being against the ICC constitution and also strongly objected to the scrapping of the proposed World Test Championship which was due to debut in 2017.

Meanwhile, Cricket South Africa (CSA) president Chris Nenzani denied on Tuesday that he changed his organisation's vote or “cut deals” after backing a proposed revamp of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Nenzani cast South Africa's vote in Singapore last Saturday in favour of a proposal which effectively gives control to the “big three” of India, England and Australia despite CSA having earlier opposed the idea.

“I would just like to correct the misleading perception that we changed our vote at the last moment,” he told a media briefing in Cape Town.

“That is not the case. I exercised our vote in terms of the mandate given to me by my fellow board members and the members' forum at our joint sitting on February 1.

“We did not form alliances or cut deals with any other country,” said Nenzani.

“I did attend a meeting with the representatives of Sri Lanka and Pakistan ahead of the meeting so that they were aware of our position.

“What we have achieved is not the ideal outcome, but it is the best possible one that was available to us both for our own future and that of the global game.”

The CSA vote left Pakistan and Sri Lanka as the only countries not in favour.

Nenzani met Indian board president N Srinivasan before the ICC meeting and Sanjay Patel, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said later that the two countries were on the verge of concluding a deal for bilateral tours.

Nenzani told a media briefing in Cape Town that CSA had protected their rights and status as a full member of the ICC.

He said the approved proposal also protected the constitution of the ICC with fully democratic elections after a two-year interim period.

“It has also been agreed that all full members will fulfill bilateral playing agreements with one another that will be legally enforceable,” he said.

Nenzani said CSA were close to finalising bilateral agreements for future tours.

“It will open the way for our world-leading Proteas to play four-match and possibly even five-match Test series and this is something that our media and public have been demanding for some time,” he said.

Nenzani said the agreement guaranteed CSA's financial future.

Meanwhile, CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat, while addressing a parliamentary sport and recreation portfolio committee, said, “It’s a liveable scenario for now because it’s transitional. It’s not a perfect way to run an organisation but you can understand the powers at play here.”