Cricket’s new world order has been voted in. Some things have been tweaked and twisted, but the main idea still remains: India, England and Australia will benefit from power and financial rewards the most. ANTOINTTE MULLER sums up the rest of the changes.
Cricket as everyone knows it is about to change. On Saturday, an adapted version of the controversial Position Paper was voted in and will most likely come into effect as of June this year. There are a number of changes which will have a massive impact on the way the game goes forward. In essence, it remains a power grab by those with nothing but self-interest and short-term goals in mind.
Here is an overview of some of the major changes and how they could impact the game.
A change in how revenue is distributed
Those who are already rich will get richer through the ICC’s distributed revenue. The proposal insists, though, that everyone will actually earn more. That’s because the ICC’s rights deal is up for bidding soon and a far more lucrative deal is in place. Still, the BCCI will take a massive chunk of the profit share, with the ECB and CA taking two bigger shares themselves. Everyone else will take a smaller slice of the pie. This was put forward because the BCCI is such a massive revenue generator for the ICC. New distribution will be based on “…the contribution they have made to the game, particularly in terms of finance, their ICC history and their on-field performances in the three formats”. While revenue sharing based on revenue generated isn’t the worst idea, this kind of massive discrepancy is bad. Cricket isn’t communism, but it should employ some of its principles in order to ensure growth is stable across all nations.
A fund to help sustain Test cricket
To help aid the Test nations who struggle financially, a Test fund will be set up. Everyone aside from India, Australia and England will benefit from the fund. The value of this fund is $12.5 million per country over eight years. It will help countries who struggle financially host Tests continuously. This isn’t the worst idea, but it promotes charity-thinking instead of forcing nations to become self-sufficient or, at least, to come up with creative ways to generate some form of income. As long as Test cricket is based on hand-outs in certain countries, it will continue to struggle.
There will be no FTP; a return to bilateral agreements instead
Gone is the wonky and completely irrelevant Future Tours Programme and in comes contractually binding tour agreements. England and Australia have already agreed to play all Test nations, but there’s been nothing said by the BCCI. This is both good and bad. It’s good because the FTP wasn’t binding and if a team decided to pull out and chop and change things – like India did to South Africa last year – there was no way back. Now, tours that are agreed upon will be legally binding and if a team pulls out, they can be taken to court. It’s bad because there’s no telling who will play whom, in which formats and how often. Test cricket already had very little context; this way, it will became even more murky. With the Test Championship now officially scrapped and the Champions Trophy reinstated, Test cricket is toeing a very dangerous line. What is good about a legally binding agreement is that it benefit countries when it comes to singing deals for sponsors and broadcasters. That means long-term deals can be negotiated more easily instead of focusing on short-term stop gaps. For example: with the losses from last year’s shortened tour by India, Cricket South Africa pulled three members of staff from their Under-19 World Cup campaign currently on the go. Amongst the cuts is a bowling coach. That’s a small example of the ripple effect of financial losses.
ExCo to be created and Finance Committee to get a makeover
A new executive committee (ExCo) will be set up and the finance and commercial affairs committee (FCA) will be revamped. Both committees will consist of five members with three of those members coming from “the big three” and two additional members being elected. These boards will make the initial call on important decisions and changes; however, they will not hold the power to put any changes into power – those still need to be voted on by all the members. The contentious point with this is that any changes that might be threatening to the big three will be eliminated before they even reach board level. The big three will edge the vote every single time, and while it will “only be transitional” for two years, some important decisions might fall by the wayside.
Srinivasan to take over as chairman
Indian cricket’s dictator will be the new chairman of the ICC. He will be in charge for the next two years and the biggest change you’re likely to see from his ruling is no more DRS. Nothing has been confirmed yet, of course, but Srini’s opposition to DRS is well known. After two years under his iron fist, all full member directors will be entitled to stand for election.
A chance for Associate Members to become Test nations
The next team who wins the Intercontinental Cup – a competition played between associates – will get a chance to stake their claim for playing Test cricket. This will be decided through a play-off against the team ranked at bottom of the ICC Test rankings. At this stage, there will not be a relegated team, which is most likely how Bangladesh was swayed to vote in favour. There’s also no clarity on the way the Intercontinental Cup will work, but it will most likely be over a three-year period. The team that gets promoted will not have any access to the Test match fund, although they will get some extra funding. The worst thing about this structure is that whoever gets promoted remains simply an associate member, which means teams like England will not be stopped from raiding teams like Ireland for talent. This is poor thinking, because a team like Zimbabwe, with their completely dysfunctional board, will continue to siphon money from the ICC while teams who have worked hard to gain full member status are being shafted.
The most galling thing about the changes is the truncation of power and money to a few already powerful and rich silos. That cannot be good for the game overall. However, with the ECB incapable of even managing themselves, the BCCI stubborn as a rock and CA the brains behind homework gate, how long before they all start fighting amongst themselves? Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but it also rarely lasts forever. For now, this is cricket’s new world order and it will be up to all of those who voted it in to prove that they made at least some decisions for the good of the game. DM
Photo: India’s Murali Vijay ducks under a low bouncer during his second innings on day three of the first international test cricket match against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Marple
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