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ICC approves wide-ranging changes
The International Cricket Council approved wide-ranging changes to its structure yesterday after eight of the ten Test nations voted for proposals that put India, England and Australia in control of the world game and with it most of the money. Only Pakistan and Sri Lanka partially opposed the moves by abstaining in the vote at an ICC board meeting in Singapore. Two countries, South Africa and Bangladesh, had initially indicated they were opposed to the reforms but ultimately gave in and voted in favour, giving the big three of India, England and Australia the eight votes they needed to pass their plans. “It’s very important for the ICC to have more commitment from those three members,” ICC president Alan Isaac said. “They would say to you that in the past they tended to concentrate on matters in their own country and perhaps not always spending the time helping, leading the ICC.” As part of the changes, which still need to be formally adopted by the ICC’s council, a new revenue-sharing model will come into play giving the lion’s share of money to India, and to a lesser extent England and Australia. That was based, the ICC said, on the big three’s larger contributions to the governing body through their rich commercial rights deals. “The structure of the model will ensure that none of the full members (Test countries) will be worse off than they are at present and if forecasts of revenue generation prove to be correct, all will be significantly better off,” the ICC said in a statement announcing the proposals had been approved by the board.
The existing ICC-regulated international cricket calendar will also be wiped away and countries will instead negotiate series bilaterally through to 2023, allowing India, England and Australia to pick and choose who they want to play over the next decade and avoid unprofitable or inconvenient tours. Those bilateral negotiations had to happen “as a matter of urgency,” the ICC said as cricket’s schedule is completely rewritten. Board of Control for Cricket in India President Narainswamy Srinivasan will become ICC chairman for two years from July when Isaac’s term ends, cementing the country’s dominant position at the world body. “I think that’s probably what would have happened anyway,” outgoing president Isaac said. The head of Cricket Australia, Wally Edwards, will chair a newly-formed executive committee for that “transitional period” through to 2016, with three of the five places permanently reserved on that body for India, England and Australia. The head of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, will chair the influential finance and commercial affairs committee to 2016, the committee that drafted the initial proposals to shake up world cricket. India, England and Australia also have permanent seats on that committee, with two other countries to be voted on.
As expected, the doomed inaugural Test cricket championship, planned for 2017, was dumped and the 50-over Champions Trophy competition will be played in its place in 2017 and 2021.
“It proved impossible to come up with a format for a four-team finals event in Test cricket that fits the culture of Test cricket and preserves the integrity of the format,” the ICC said. In a boost for smaller cricket countries, they will have the chance to be promoted to play Tests with the winner of the next ICC Intercontinental Cup earning a playoff against the lowest-ranked test team. That gives the likes of Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Canada, Kenya and the Netherlands the chance to challenge for Test status, probably in 2016. Ireland won the last Intercontinental Cup, while Bangladesh is currently the lowest-ranked Test nation. The ICC called it “breaking the glass ceiling” to Test cricket, which could be increased to 11 teams.
Cricket will also introduce a Test fund to give money to the so-called “smaller seven” current Test nations who do not command the wealth India, England and Australia do through their commercial rights. The only opponents to some of the proposals, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, had “pledged to further discuss the issues,” the ICC said. But with the majority against them, the Pakistan Cricket Board and Cricket Sri Lanka are now under pressure to also back the changes with India’s dominance of world cricket clear.