File photo of BCCI president N Srinivasan chatting to Wally Edwards of Australia during an ICC Board Meeting. (Getty Images)
Almost numb to the opposition, India, England and Australia are busy tick-marking major structural changes in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) governance that will make them immune to major pitfalls, give a larger control of the game, as well as entitle the 'Big Three' to a bigger chunk of the revenue generated. And on Thursday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) put its official stamp of acceptance on the proposal.
The proposal - termed as the 'working group position paper' - was initially tabled by ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs (F&CA), but it's implications may seriously hurt other seven ICC Full Members (Test nations) and give the BCCI, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) a major share of the decision-making power with a pocket heavier than ever before.
In addition, the 'position paper' points at possible changes in the revenue distribution models, administration and in the Future Tours Programme (FTP). Understandably, the proposed changes are facing opposition from other major cricket-playing nations, like Cricket South Africa (CSA), and the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) - for it will create a major imbalance in the cricket world.
In contrast, terming the proposed changes "in the interest of cricket at large", the BCCI Emergent Working Committee on Thursday formally approved the 'position paper' subject to it being approved by the ICC Board.
1. Permanent membership for India, Australia and England in the proposed Executive Committee (ExCo). The ExCo will supersede all other committees.
The ExCo will be a four-member committee, with three permanent representatives from BCCI, ECB and CA - who will have an annually rotating chairman from among them. The ExCo will have a fourth member as well, who will be nominated by the ICC's Executive Board from the group of other ICC Full Members.
2. All ICC Members - except the BCCI, CA and ECB - will be subject to promotion and relegation in Test cricket. According to the 'position paper', the move has been proposed "solely in order to protect ICC income due to the importance of those markets and teams to prospective ICC media rights buyers."
3. Bilateral arrangements taking over the Futures Tours Programme (FTB), which will de-link ICC from FTP arrangements. No member nation forced to play except for bilaterally-agreed matches.
4. New model of revenue distribution.
5. Only nominees of BCCI, CA and ECB to be appointed the ICC chairman and chairmen of ExCo and F&CA.
6. Champions Trophy to be reinstated in 2017 and 2021, with no room for the World Test Championship.
The ICC members nations were presented this document in Dubai on January 9 during the special meeting called in addition to the regular ICC Board meting held every three months.
But, as expected, the proposal is facing major opposition from the current No. 1-ranked Test nation - CSA, even as the ICC awaits response on the 'position paper' from its member nations.
In an open letter to the ICC president Alan Isaac, CSA president Chris Nenzani termed the proposal as 'fundamentally flawed", calling for its withdrawal.
"These proposals should first be referred to the relevant ICC committees or sub-committees for proper consideration and to make recommendations to the ICC Board," Nenzani said in the letter. "The proposal self-evidently is inextricably tied up with a fundamental restructuring of the ICC, which has far-reaching constitutional implications," it further read.
"The draft proposal is, therefore, fundamentally flawed as regards the process and, therefore, in breach of the ICC constitution. In the circumstances, we propose that the draft proposal be withdrawn immediately given that proper procedures have not been followed," Nenzani added.
If the proposals were to be passed, some forecasts suggest South Africa's revenue will fall below that of Pakistan. And CSA's strong opposition has been backed by FICA.
"The FICA board and our members are extremely concerned about the future of international cricket," FICA Executive Chairman Paul Marsh said. "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 while the rest are left to wither on the vine.
"What chance do the majority of members have of survival if the BCCI decides not to tour their countries on at least a semi-regular basis?" Marsh asked. "The game deserves far better than this and all within FICA call on the other seven ICC board members to reject this proposal. The future of the game depends on them doing so," he said.
Voices of opposition have also emerged from Sri Lanka.
"It poses a serious challenge to Sri Lanka Cricket set-up," Sri Lankan Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has said, without elaborating. The SLC Executive Committee is expected to meet on January 23, after which its official stance on the 'position paper' is expected.
CA, who will be one of three chief beneficiaries in case the proposals are approved, has defended the proposals.
"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," CA Chairman Wally Edwards said.
New Zealand has held its cards close, not making its opinion apparent, but hinting towards supporting it. "Don't jump to the conclusion [that] what they're doing is not good for world cricket," New Zealand Cricket director Martin Snedden said.
The proposals must have the support of seven of the 10 ICC Full Member nations..
(Official quotes provided by agencies)