Melbourne: Cricket's most powerful players representative says planned reforms of world cricket will widen the gap between the sport's big-three and smaller nations, undermining the competitiveness of the international game.
Paul Marsh, head of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations which combines the player associations of seven of the International Cricket Council's 10 full members, described aspects of the leaked reform proposals as "disturbing," saying they will broaden disparities between cricket's "rich and poor."
Although details of the proposals have not been made public, they are reported to give India, England and Australia control over the ICC, Test cricket and its revenue in a major shake-up of the way the sport is run, including a greater say in when and where they play series.
The changes reportedly would see the three countries hold dominance over the ICC's decision-making executive board, altering the method by which revenues are distribuedng and allowing India, Australia and England to decide who they play and when. Marsh on Wednesday joined widespread criticism of the new regulations drawn up by a working group of the ICC Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee. South Africa has already condemned the draft document as "fundamentally flawed."
The proposed reforms would likely see the revision or abandonment of the Future Tours Program which guarantees smaller nations regular series against the big three sides. "The proposals relating to scheduling are disturbing," Marsh said. "Of significance is the section that offers a guarantee from Cricket Australia and the ECB to play three Tests and five ODIs per cycle to each of the top eight members, yet there is no mention of any such guarantee from the BCCI."
Marsh said all ICC member nations, including Australia and England, rely heavily on proceeds from India tours for the sustainability of the sport in their country. "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?" he said.
Marsh also raised concerns about the proposal's recomendation that revenues be distributed to ICC members on a pro-rata basis, "based on commercial contribution." "The result of this will be the countries that need ICC income most will receive the least while the 'Big Three' will get the lion's share even though they are already financially healthy because of the value of the rights to their bilateral series.
"The role of ICC events should be to assist in leveling the financial playing field by distributing the proceeds from these events fairly, rather than further widening the gap between the rich and poor."