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Cricket is on the back foot, says Ian Chappell

Ian Chappell writes on the move to let the ‘big three’ rule cricket. The former Australian captain slams the International Cricket Council's move to let BCCI, ECB and CA rule the game

I’m all in favour of revamping the ICC, it’s been long overdue. I just don’t like the sound of the restructuring they have in mind. The proposed changes, which will see the BCCI, CA and the ECB (‘the big three’) have control over the ICC decision making process and distribution of funds, sounds like a return to past mistakes.

Cricket Australia Chairman Wally Edwards (left) with ECB Chairman Giles Clarke. Pic/Getty Images
Cricket Australia Chairman Wally Edwards (left) with ECB Chairman Giles Clarke. Pic/Getty Images

Up until 1993, Australia and England had the power of veto at the ICC. This meant Australia and England virtually had control over the ICC decision making process and in effect were patting the other nations on the head and saying; “Don’t you worry about the game of cricket. We know more about it than you and we’ll make sure you don’t stuff it up.”

Not surprisingly, this rankled with the Asian countries and the Caribbean but that was never fully understood by the power brokers. “We’ve never used the power of veto,” they argued. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t used it; the fact that it was in the constitution was enough to anger it’s opponents.

The new proposals sound a lot like a return to this style of administration, with the only change being the addition of India, a nation that railed most strongly against the previous structure, to the controlling group. My initial thought is; “Who decided ‘the big three’ were best equipped to run cricket?”

The answer would appear to be, themselves. What happens then, when another power rises in the game? Will we then have another restructuring and the mandate for power altered accordingly? Why not get the structure right now so that the body that runs the game in future does so on a global basis and with the best interests of the game as their number one priority?

At the moment, the game appears to be run on the basis that self-interest is in the best interest. I don’t see anything in the proposed restructure to change that thought process. The proposals seem to shout out loud and clear; “We (the big three) are the most important players in the game and as such we must be protected at all times.”

Financial clout
I understand that financial clout means power. However, it’s the way that power is utilised that eventually decides whether a body has been effective or otherwise. The ICC hasn’t been an effective body for a long time and yet ‘the big three’ have essentially been wielding the power. In that period, financial interests have held sway in the decision making process and the new proposals seem to concentrate heavily on that aspect of the operation.

There are so many other crucial matters that need addressing — like corruption, a blue print for all three-forms of the game to go forward in unison, a viable itinerary and illegal actions — to mention a few. None of these have been properly addressed in the recent past and yet we are asked to believe the new structure is the right way forward.

Mark me down as a non-believer. The smartest thing cricket administrators have done is introduce the IPL. The glamour T20 competition has meant players have the lure of earning huge money, which means the best rewarded cricketers are unlikely to rebel.

A player rebellion was the most likely source of cricket moving to an effective administrative structure. As the main attraction in the game, surely the players should have a say in the way the game is restructured. There were others with a vested interest in the game — the television companies, the sponsors, the fans — who should also have been represented in the planning process.

But no, cricket has again said; “Father knows best”. The ‘Big three’ are asking to be appointed custodians of the game and everyone else will again be patted on the head and told; “Don’t worry, we’ll look after things.”

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