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26 February 2024

Sri Lanka Cricket oppose 'illegal' ICC revamp

Sri Lanka Cricket president Jayantha Dharmadasa. (FILE)

By Agencies

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are likely to maintain their opposition to giving more power to India, England and Australia in cricket when the world body meets and possibly votes on proposals for change on Saturday.

The positions of South Africa and Bangladesh, initially opposed to the changes, are unclear.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it has “serious concerns” over the proposals which were “neither in line with the principle of equity nor in the interest of the game of cricket.”

Sri Lanka have insisted plans for wholesale reform of the International Cricket Council (ICC) are in conflict with the organisation's "fundamental principles".

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said it will oppose them at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Singapore following a unanimous decision by its executive committee.

“The SLC executive committee was firmly of the view that all endeavours should be made to safeguard the current rights and privileges of Sri Lanka Cricket as a full member of the ICC,” the country's cricket board said after inviting former national team captains, past board presidents and representatives of the country's sports ministry to join a meeting and give their opinion.

“All present at this meeting were in unanimous agreement ... to oppose the revised proposals.”

Sri Lanka, together with Pakistan and South Africa, had already objected to the proposals when they were leaked ahead of an ICC board meeting in Dubai.

Soon after the talks, it became clear several countries still had concerns ahead of Saturday's follow-up meeting in Singapore, which could see a vote on implementing the plans.

In a letter seen by AFP in London, SLC president Jayantha Dharmadasa has written to the ICC's head of legal affairs, Iain Higgins, warning the reforms are "not valid" in law.

The letter, sent to the ICC's Dubai headquarters on February 5, states that one of the objects for which the ICC was established was to regulate and promote the game worldwide "in co-operation with its members".

However, Dharmadasa argued the proposed changes take away power from the 10 full members and vest it "in an inordinately disproportionate manner in just three full members, namely the boards of India, England and Australia".

"The purported resolutions also have the effect of taking a disproportionately large share of the funding available from the ICC and distributing it among these three full members," Dharmadasa added. "This is contrary to the equal revenue share model that is enshrined in the constitution."

The other major proposed change is the end of the current Future Tours Programme, designed to give all 10 leading countries a regular diet of international cricket, and a return to 'bilateral' series.

Critics such as former England captain Michael Atherton have said the plans represent "the end of the notion that a fair and principled and just body can govern cricket in the interests of all".

But the 'Big Three' have insisted their scheme is about more than their own self-interest, with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke saying: "If the status quo was so successful, why were so many countries in a perilous financial state?"

He added: "All countries earn more through this proposal. No member would earn less and, if our predictions are correct, most will earn an awful lot more. How can that be bad for cricket?"

After initially rallying the opposition, Cricket South Africa hasn't stated its stance since the proposals were tweaked and is in discussions with the Board of Control for Cricket in India and other ICC member countries – an apparent toning down of its opposition after rejecting the initial proposals by the BCCI, England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia as “fundamentally flawed.”

“We have carefully considered the proposals,” CSA President Chris Nenzani said in the latest statement.

“And we have declared that we will engage further with the ICC and other members to try and reach any consensus ahead of Saturday's ICC board meeting and that position still stands,” he added.

CSA, which initially said it wouldn't comment on the “sensitive matters,” broke its silence to deny media reports that it was planning to side with the big three in return for favours from the BCCI.

Wealthy India and its partners in England and Australia have to win over five of the other seven Test nations for the eight votes they need to approve the sweeping changes to the ICC that will clear the way for them to, among other things, earn more money and deregulate the international cricket calendar.

That will allow the big three to pick and choose their opponents and turn down unprofitable or inconvenient series against smaller teams.

New Zealand, West Indies and Zimbabwe seem to have been won over already, with New Zealand the most open in its reasons for backing the changes; guarantees that it'll receive money-spinning tours from the big teams.

“We've got strong commitments from Australia, from India, from England,” said Martin Snedden, New Zealand Cricket's representative on the ICC.

“So on the field I think we're getting close to getting a really, really good result out of this.”

Like South Africa, Bangladesh could also be wavering after the BCCI, ECB and CA adjusted its proposals to suggest that no country would lose its Test status.

That was likely to be the biggest issue for Bangladesh and its struggling Test team.