Sanity prevails at ICC Boardroom


Earlier this week, the ICC ended the Big Three concept, the brain child of N. Srinivasan.

by Rex Clementine

Finally the International Cricket Council has overwhelmingly voted against the Big Three concept and now an even playing field has been presented to all Full Members. When Big Three – India, England and Australia – high jacked control of the  ICC three years ago, claiming the three most powerful cricket nations needed to have a larger control over the governance, the rest of the world merely gave in. Only Pakistan fought a lone battle.

Before cricket officials went in for the crucial meeting in 2014, Sri Lanka and South Africa had shown solidarity with Pakistan and would have been able to shoot down the takeover as a two third majority was needed to amend the ICC Constitution. But Sri Lanka Cricket and Cricket South Africa meekly gave in after compromises were reached in the means of Indian tours ahead of the meeting. SLC and CSA left Pakistan Cricket Board high and dry.

Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga minced no words about the Big Three concept, which gave India, England and Australia, the lion’s share of ICC revenue. Ranatunga at that point asked whether Brazil, Germany and Italy could take a cue from cricket and demand a larger control and revenue from FIFA as the three most successful football playing teams in the world.

In 2008, Ranatunga had paid a heavy price for his vehement opposition to the BCCI. After he accepted an invitation by the English and Wales Cricket Board to fill in for the void created by Zimbabwe by playing a Test series in England, Ranatunga demanded Sri Lanka’s cricketers to return early from the IPL. The players took up their grievances with their Indian bosses and the BCCI put pressure on Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge to dismiss Ranatunga as SLC chief. A day after Ranatunga was dismissed, then BCCI Secretary N. Srinivasan flew down to Colombo to announce that the Indian team would play an unscheduled series in Sri Lanka. Such was Srinivasan’s vanity. You were either with him or against him.

Sri Lanka has always played ball with BCCI. A few men like Ranatunga have differed. Even in the recent ICC meeting, Sri Lanka only voted against the financial distribution method and voted for retaining the status quo when it came to governance of the ICC. The funnier part is that Australia and England, who are part of the Big Three concept, wanted the method overhauled.

According to the revenue sharing method that was in place previously, the BCCI was to receive a sum of US$ 570 million through ICC earnings. That has been cut down by the half after the reforms.

According to new reforms, ECB will receive a sum of US$ 125 million while the rest of the Full Members with the exception of Zimbabwe will receive US$ 115 million each over an eight year period. Zimbabwe will gain US$ 85 million. The new recommendations have also accommodated non Test playing nations like Afghanistan and Ireland, who will receive US$ 55 million each.

As for SLC, they will benefit with their stake increased by US$ 30 million compared to what they were receiving under the Big Three model. What has gone out is the US$ 10 million promised to each of the seven non members of the Big Three to conduct non-profitable Test series over a period of eight years. So effectively, SLC’s stake has increased only by US$ 20 million.

ICC Chief Sashank Manohar needs to be applauded for the bold stance he has taken antagonizing his own board. It’s the BCCI that’s opposing his move while the moderate Indians welcome the change. The likes of N. Srinivasan made India unpopular in the eyes of rest of the cricket world due to their dictatorial methods.

Manohar, who hails from Nagpur is a lawyer by profession and is said to be a simple man. Apparently he neither had a mobile phone nor a passport before becoming the BCCI Chief prior to Srinivasan, a decade ago.

Now that the recommendations have been passed despite India’s vehement opposition, you can look forward to BCCI hitting back with a vengeance. It’s like the United Nations passing a resolution without the backing of US. India have still not named their squad for the Champions Trophy. There are fears that the Indian team could withdraw from the tournament.

The Indian Supreme Court (SC) also needs to be applauded for the no nonsense approach it showed towards Srinivasan and other ambitious officials from BCCI. Before the SC intervention, Srinivasan played by a different set of rules. His cases were heard in a different SC – Srinivasan’s Court.

The SC has now put an age limit to hold positions in cricket which effectively rules Srinivasan out of contention as he is over 70 years. There are also term limits and that ensures that no single individual is able to bring in his manipulative methods.

The cricket loving public in Sri Lanka will be hoping and praying that the apex court in this country steps in and cleans up the mess in our cricket too. Over to you the learned judges.

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