Chorus against BCCI-led ICC takeover grows louder

Heavyweight administrators lend support to Ehsan Mani's proposals to stop an overhaul of the ICC.

Former ICC president ManiSeveral well-known former cricket administrators on Sunday called for the withdrawal of a proposal that seeks to completely revamp the International Cricket Council (ICC) even as the week-long meetings of the world body entered the second day in Dubai.

The 21-page draft, titled 'Position Paper on ICC/IDI Group Structure, Governance, Financial Model, Bilateral, and ICC Events’ and prepared by the Indian, Australian and English Boards, seeks to overhaul the world body.

The ICC is likely to discuss the draft at a meeting of its Executive Board on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dubai.

On Sunday, several former officials — ICC president Malcolm Gray, ICC CEO Malcolm Speed, ex-West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, Bangladesh president Saber H. Chowdhury, and Pakistani Board chairmen Shahryar Khan and Tauqir Zia — supported a note on the draft prepared by ex-ICC president Ehsan Mani, outlining its shortcomings.

As per the draft, which, if implemented in its present state, the BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA), and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) stand to gain the most, mainly in financial terms. There is also a proposal of a two-tier Test cricket.

After the draft was leaked on January 17, several national Boards have expressed their reservations about the proposal while the BCCI — one of the three Boards that have drafted the proposal — endorsed the document at a working committee meeting on Thursday in Chennai.

The BCCI has insisted that it is doing nothing wrong, and that it deserves the bigger pie from ICC revenues.

"It is recognition of India’s involvement in cricket and revenue generation by India. We are asking the legitimate right and it would not shrink cricketing activity in any way,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told reporters after the working committee meeting in Chennai on Thursday.

"There have been no objections so far. It's a question of understanding, not a question of power game. We are not asking more than what we should,” he explained.

However, BCCI president N. Srinivasan, who is widely believed to be the brain behind the drafting of the proposal, has not spoken so far on the issue.

Today, the BCCI is the world’s richest Board. It also has the world’s most popular cricket team, and 70 per cent of the ICC’s income comes from this country. Therefore, the BCCI says it is entitled to get a bigger share of the ICC revenues.

There was a time in the ICC when England and Australia enjoyed the veto power, which was done away with 20 years ago.

India first made a big on-field splash in 1983 when Kapil Dev’s team won the World Cup against all odds — and since then the BCCI has gone from strength to strength, both on and off the field.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s teams won the 2007 World T20 and the 50-over World Cup in 2011 to raise the profile of the Indian team. India have also been the No. 1 Test and ODI teams, attracting more and more sponsors.

Earlier, Cricket South Africa (CSA) had called for an immediate withdrawal of the proposal, terming it "fundamentally flawed”. On Sunday, another South African, Ali Bacher, a former managing director of CSA’s processor the United Cricket Board of South Africa, wrote a mail to ICC president Alan Isaac, saying that the proposals could lead to "division and strife” in the cricket world.

"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. ICC member countries should never forget the animosity that existed particularly in the (Indian) sub-continent and the Caribbean when England and Australia had veto rights prior to 1993,” Bacher, a former South Africa Test captain, wrote in the mail.

"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,” he said in the mail.

"Please circulate this message to the rest of the ICC Board and management.” The Woolf Committee Review is a document that has suggested wide ranging changes, including governance, of the ICC. The report, running into 60-pages, has been prepared by Lord Woolf of England, in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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