Sport

FICA: Investigate May ousting

By Ant Sims 8 May 2013

Over the last few days, the matter of Tim May’s ousting has become more and more hotly contested. May was removed as player representative from the ICC cricket committee, reportedly through some underhanded doings from the BCCI. The ICC hasn’t batted an eyelash and the International Cricketers Associations wants the matter investigated. By ANT SIMS.

The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) has called for the ICC to investigate the removal of Tim May from the ICC cricket committee.

May’s removal has sparked a massive debate amidst allegations of the BCCI meddling and canvassing for votes in order to have their preferred candidate, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, appointed.

Sivaramakrishnan has been given one of two places on the committee, one which has to be held by a current player (which Kumar Sangakkara won) and one a former player. May played 24 Tests for Australia  and 47 one-day internationals while Siva represented India in nine Tests and 16 one-day internationals. Their credentials as cricketers are less important than what they can do for players, though, but on paper, both are perfectly able to fill the role.

The committee debates everything which impacts the players, from proposed law changes the use of the decision review system and the members will serve the committee for a three-year term. Sangakkara has been on the committee since 2007, but as with all good democratic elections, votes need to happen every-so-often in order to ensure things are fair.

The ten captains of the ten Test playing nations vote for their candidates, yet there are murmurs that several players had asked the skippers to resubmit their votes. South African skipper Graeme Smith apparently resubmitted his vote thrice, without changing it, while other captains said that they were “asked to change their votes or run the risk of losing revenue of future Indian tours”.

Speculation was confirmed by a number of people, including Tony Irish, CEO of SA’s player’s association, who revealed that May is apparently not liked by the Indian board.

“The voting for the players’ representative on the ICC cricket committee is done by the 10 Test captains,” Irish told The Indian Express.

“In the first instance, it went in favour of Tim May. But, suddenly we faced a situation where Tim May was said to be ‘unacceptable’ by some board and a re-voting was ordered. Some captains were pressured to change their decision and we all know that Tim is not liked by the Indian board. I don’t want to go into the details. But us and some of the countries’ boards wondered what was the reason for the change,” Irish added.

When votes were initially submitted, they favoured May 9-1, some canvassing was done and the two were then deadlocked at 5-5. A little more meandering and Sivaramakrishnan had won 6-4, and while some have suggested that this vote is “what’s best for the game” one has to question the motives of the Indian governing body once the relationship between May and the BCCI has been examined.

May has been vocal about his feelings regarding the continuously mushrooming T20 leagues and how they are run; he also serves as CEO of FICA, an organisation which two years ago conducted a survey suggesting that the BCCI has an “unfair influence on the International Cricket Committee’s (ICC) decision making”. They also called for compulsory use of DRS and argued that the image of cricket as a world sport was tarnished.

It’s fair to say that May and the BCCI have never seen eye-to-eye. There is no players’ association in India, and not a single Indian player is part of FICA. While his removal has been controversial and some have argued it was all about getting a BCCI candidate on board, it was ostensibly more about ensuring May was shut out, especially with the Cricket Committee’s annual meeting due to take place in London on 28 and 29 May.

While decisions on things such as DRS and other things that impact players is not at the sole discretion of Siva and the committee, his opinion will certainly count. The meeting will be chaired by Anil Kumble and newly elected representative has already shied away from whether or not DRS will be debated.

“I don’t know whether it is a part of the agenda. If it is on the agenda, then we will look into the matter. I am not the sole person who controls the committee, I just have an opinion,” he said. “I will say whatever I feel about the DRS in the meeting and it’s the final consensus of the committee whether to take the decision to implement DRS or leave it optional. So, it’s not entirely my call.”

FICA knows that where there is smoke, there is fire, and its legal advisor, Ian Smith, has said the players’ body is aware the ICC warned member nations not to interfere with the voting process but then did nothing when those warnings were ignored. He, like Irish and others, said Boards had applied “direct pressure on their captains to amend their votes”.

And, just like everybody else who has been involved, he insists that there was less “lobbying” before an election and  more “threatening an employee to change their vote.”

“In light of media reports that five ICC full member boards applied direct pressure on their captains to amend their votes in the recent elections, FICA’s official stance is that these allegations must warrant careful and independent scrutiny,” Smith said. “Especially because we understand ICC specifically instructed the Boards not to interfere in the voting process.

“The actions, allegedly instigated by BCCI, are a timely and stark reminder of the very serious shortcomings in governance at ICC highlighted more than a year ago by the Woolf Report and about which [the] ICC has done nothing in the intervening period.

“It is further apparent from statements made by unnamed ICC Board sources overnight that they are trying to position the involved Boards’ actions as ‘lobbying’, but there should be a very clear distinction made between a candidate lobbying for a vote and an employer threatening an employee to change their vote.”

May has certainly been kept out, but the plot of the BCCI’s preferred candidate thickens. Sivaramakrishnan is also employed by the Chennai Super Kings, the IPL franchise owned by the BCCI’s president, N Srinivasan.  In any other profession, that would be conflict of interest and one cannot help but wonder just how much influence the BCCI will now wield over player opinion when it comes to important issues – like how the IPL affects international cricket and the use of the DRS. While it is certainly possible to remain objective in a dual role, it’s unlikely in this situation, and FICA wants answers.

Jimmy Adams, president of FICA, is concerned over the ICC’s disregard for adequate governance.

“How can the players of the world look to ICC for leadership in these circumstances and how does the spirit of cricket apply to the organisation itself?” Adams said. “Board members didn’t like how their captains intended to vote, so they apparently ordered them to change that vote. This type of behaviour from the game’s ruling body makes a mockery of their motives behind the procurement of the Woolf report.

“FICA wants [the] ICC to use its own processes to deal with this. It has a Code of Ethics with which Directors and Members need to comply – the reported actions of some of the Member Boards and ICC directors, at the very least warrant investigation under this Code. We call on ICC to hold itself up to the high standards of moral conduct it constantly tells the players and officials it expects from them.

“Ultimately, these actions are symptoms of poor governance at the top level and a blatant disregard for what most would regard as the necessary ethical standards required to run a prominent international sport – cricket deserves a lot better.” DM

Photo: Malcolm Speed, James Sutherland and Tim May make announcement about two fund-raising one-day cricket matches for victims of Sunday’s tsunami in Sydney. Malcolm Speed (C), Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC), speaks as James Sutherland (L), Chief Executive of Cricket Australia, and Tim May, Chief Executive of the International Cricketers’ Association listen on during a press conference in Sydney January 1, 2005 to announce that two one-day cricket matches will be played to raise funds for victims of Sunday’s tsunami. The first match will be played on January 10 in Melbourne between a selected World XI and an Asian XI, with the second match to be confirmed for either February or March on the subcontinent. REUTERS/David Gray

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