Ireland cricketers to get chance to play-off for Test status next year
Published 08/02/2014 | 11:43
Sweeping changes to the governance of world cricket have been approved at a meeting of the International Cricket Council board, with England, India and Australia handed newly powerful roles at the head of the organisation.
There was good news for Associate nations such as Ireland and Afghanistan, who have been offered the chance to compete for the right to achieve Test status.
The winners of the next Intercontintal Cup have been granted a play-off against the bottom-ranked full member, with 'promotion' to the Test elite at stake.
The 16-man board first discussed the controversial measures, which seek to overhaul "the governance, competition and financial models" of the ICC in Dubai on January 28, but voting on proposals was deferred until Saturday's follow-up meeting in Singapore.
The recommendations, which began life in a widely-leaked 'position paper' drafted by the so-called 'big three', were then passed with the required majority.
Cricket South Africa and the Bangladesh Cricket Board had gone public with reservations about the changes, but in the end only representatives from Pakistan and Sri Lanka chose to abstain as the remaining eight full members voted in favour.
Most of the resolutions passed by the ICC Board have been in the public sphere for some time, partly due to the leaked draft and partly as a result of the previous meeting in Dubai.
Although familiar, they remain profound alterations to the international game - not least in the way they empower three nations.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India, England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia have been guaranteed three of the five seats on a new executive committee that will carry considerable influence, and three of the five on a revamped financial sub-committee.
The sense of an executive stranglehold by the boards who helped author these changes is emphasised by the fact that BCCI president N Srinivasan will become the new chair the ICC board, with CA's Wally Edwards chairing the ExCo and and ECB chairman Giles Clark continuing to do so for the financial committee.
The changes are not merely abstract ones affecting various committees, though, with changes to the current financial model forming a central plank of the proposals.
India, in particular, are understood to have been unhappy that their position as the most commercially attractive force in world cricket was not being recognised in revenues from global events.
In line with that the ICC board has agreed that full members will receive a greater share of central funds based largely on their own financial contribution, but also considering "their ICC history and their on-field performances in the three formats".
The ICC is keen to assert that no full member will be worse off than they are at present but, with broadcasting and sponsorship deals set to rise exponentially, the richest nations can expect to become disproportionately wealthier.
While this may appear to leave those at the lower end of the spectrum at a disadvantage, India's willingness to negotiate hard could have been the decisive factor.
Reports earlier this year suggested that the BCCI had considered withdrawing India from ICC events such as the World Cup and the World Twenty20, had a new distribution scheme not been agreed.
India's presence is so central to the appeal of such competitions that their market value would almost certainly plummet without it.
Although officially unconfirmed, the ICC appeared to give a nod to such considerations.
The statement read: "This decision (on finances) is the outcome of a negotiation between Members that has been required to provide long-term certainty of participation of all Members in both ICC events and bilateral series against other Members.
"Without that certainty, the rights for ICC events, which are to be taken to market this year, would have been significantly impacted and, by extension, so would the financial support that has driven the growth of cricket around the world.
"The agreement of the model has been an important part of a wider negotiation that will now provide long-term certainty of participation in ICC events by all of the Full Member teams."
As expected, a death sentence has been passed on the World Test Championship.
Once seen as the potential saviour of Test cricket, it has now been consigned to history before ever being contested. In its the place the 50-over Champions Trophy will return in 2017 and 2021.
In deference to the longer format, a Test cricket fund will be created, providing support to all full members except India, England and Australia.
ICC President Alan Isaac said: "The Board has made some significant decisions today which provide us with long-term certainty in relation to the future governance, competition and financial models of the ICC.
"This decision comes after extensive discussions between Members that I helped initiate and were given impetus through a position paper presented by the BCCI, Cricket Australia and ECB in early January.
"Since this time a set of resolutions have been drafted, negotiated and modified - based on a set of principles agreed by the ICC Board on 28 January - and finalized at the meeting today. There were eight Full Members who were in a position to support the resolution today and the two who abstained have pledged to further discuss the issues with an aim to reaching unanimous approval over the coming weeks."
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson added: "We now have clear direction from the Board and it is our job to implement the approved resolution."