ICC must play ball for the global game

Blog Opinion

There simply isn't enough time and money put into the preparation and management of proper Test series, writes Peter May.

The ICC want more teams playing all forms of cricket.

How do we know this?

Because they have told us as much. Their corporate 'strategic direction' is towards a "Bigger, Better Global Game: Targeting more players, more fans, more competitive teams."

And are these words backed up by action? Good grief, no.

Haroon Lorgat, chief executive and incorrigible dreamer, commissioned a report a while back to guide reform of the organisation's embarrassing governance. The result of that report two weeks ago clearly and correctly branded the ICC an exclusive members' club that should be more open to other nations' views and interests. Inevitably, reading between the lines this means the rich giving more money to the poor.

The findings were met with deathly silence by all leading national boards, almost as if they were waiting to take their lead from someone else… then on Monday the BCCI rejected the Woolf report out of hand.

It didn't really explain why, or even what parts it objects to, because it doesn't really need to. The ICC <I>is</I> the BCCI but even so the boldness was impressive.

In a display of self-confidence and self-unawareness you just had to admire, the Indian board sent out N Srinivasan as the hatchet man. He is currently both a director of the ICC and BCCI president, the sort of blatant conflict of interest that Woolf says undermines the credibility and integrity of the ICC. It's like Alberto Contador saying there is no need for drug-testing in cycling.

Worse still (or better still, if you are resigned to cricket's fate and enjoy watching self-important men trying to dress up their naked self-interest), Srinivasan is also central to the running of the Indian Premier League. As boss of the Chennai Super Kings he should not have been allowed onto the BCCI board, but was.

Graduates of junior school and/or fans of simultaneous equations should be able to "do the math": if the ICC is effectively the BCCI and the BCCI is effectively the IPL, what have you got?

Of course it's not quite that simple but the attempt to exclude all associate nations from the next World Cup, the promotion given to the absurd and meaningless Champions League, and the quite shocking rise of the two-Test series are all indicative about the state of the game's management and priorities. By the time the next team tries to join Test cricket – Ireland want to try in 2020 – it may not exist meaningfully outside the Ashes. There simply isn't enough time and money put into the preparation and management of proper series.

The money that India has and the influence that brings is a fact of life. Not only is it not going away, it is going to grow over the coming decades relative to the game's other big players.

All the world game can hope for, from other Test nations to developing sides hoping to crack the members' club, is that the BCCI wields its power responsibly and proportionately for the betterment of world cricket. But they made clear this week they have no interest in doing so.

<b>Peter May</b>