FICA boils over on the ICC coup; Cricket Australia blows bubbles

By Antoinette Muller 23 January 2014

FICA, the organisation which speaks for player associations across the world, has issued a statement regarding the new ICC proposition paper. Unsurprisingly, and rightly, FICA is rather irked by the whole thing. Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has become the first one of the “big three” to speak out as the saga looks to draw on until it is possibly put to vote at the end of the month. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

The world’s cricketers have spoken out about the new draft proposal which could be put forward to vote at the end of the month. The proposal, which suggests the bulk of the power of the ICC is given to Australia, England and India, has caused much concern outside of those quarters.

Cricket South Africa has already called for the draft to be withdrawn and on Wednesday, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), issued a statement via their chairman Paul Marsh.

“After reviewing the working group’s proposal, the FICA Board and our members are extremely concerned about the future of international cricket. This proposal is designed to vest control of the game in the three Boards of India, Australia and England. It is not in the best interests of the global game and we have real fears that it will only serve to strengthen the ‘big three’ countries whilst the rest are left to wither on the vine,” said the statement.

“There are a myriad of issues with this proposal. First and foremost, as Board Directors of the ICC, the Chairmen of the BCCI, Cricket Australia and ECB owe fiduciary duties to the ICC that include putting the interests of the ICC ahead of those of their individual Boards, a duty to remain loyal to the ICC and avoid conflicts of interest and to act in good faith to promote the success of the ICC. We seriously question whether all of these duties have been met.”

The statement also touches on the suggestion that the Future Tours Programme (FTP) get scrapped. Should this happen, Cricket Australia and the ECB have guaranteed to play three Tests and five ODIs per cycle to each of the top eight members, but there has been no word on what the BCCI has to do. FICA believes that this will see the gap between the “big three” and the rest grow even bigger, damaging the health and sustainability of the world game.

It also goes on to question the proposed distribution fund where revenue will be shared based on commercial contribution. FICA says that “the role of ICC events should be to assist in levelling the financial playing field by distributing the proceeds from these events fairly, rather than further widening the gap between the rich and poor”.

It further goes on to criticise the proposed relegation immunity of the big three. This will happen if a two-tier system is installed.

“Ironically the proposal espouses the principal of meritocracy. The linking of immunity from Test relegation for BCCI, ECB and CA to an argument that this is necessary ‘solely to protect ICC income’ is plainly wrong, given the fact no Test-based ICC events feature in the forward thinking and therefore all revenues generated from Test cricket are kept by the boards hosting the respective series.”

Cricket Australia have become the first one of the big three boards to give an outright comment on the matter. Wally Edwards, CA chairman, has called the reaction from FICA “disappointing”.

“Traditionally, CA does not comment on ICC discussions it is about to have – we talk to other ICC nations across the table rather than via the media,” Edwards said.

“But we were today disappointed to see the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations question whether CA and others have met their fiduciary duties as ICC members.”

The proposal is yet to be voted on and will be put forward for vote at a meeting at the end of the month. There is still a possibility that a number of changes could be made to the proposal before it’s put forward. However, it is understood that “the big three” were reasonably sure that this version would have been accepted. Edwards has responded by blowing bubbles to make it sound as if everyone’s best interests are being held at heart. Edwards, Giles Clarke of England and N. Srinivasan’s approach to the situation have, however, been nothing short of shambolic. The three met last year during an Ashes Test in Perth. They all form part the game’s Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee and met to discuss, amongst other things, this proposal.

“Setting aside the fact that we are yet to discuss and vote, CA’s approach internationally is consistent with its approach at home where we have made significant strides improving the governance of Australian cricket. There will be a discussion in the next few days among the ICC’s full member nations about possible changes to how the ICC works,” said Edwards.

In his best spin, he suggested that Test cricket was the priority. He might be right, but it’s obviously just a priority for some.

“CA’s view going into that discussion is that we need to continue to promote international cricket competitions including the primacy of Test cricket, we need to improve global cricket leadership and we support that members should be working to promote the interest of the game as their priority.”

In order for the longest format of the game to prosper, some innovation is definitely needed and the proposals suggestion of a “Test fund” has the right idea. This fund will allow monies to be distributed to nations who struggle financially. But while some elements are indeed positive suggestions, this should not be allowed to come at the cost of governing the game properly. DM

Photo: Australia’s players celebrate after winning the fifth Ashes cricket test against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground January 5, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray.


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