NZC slammed for support of ICC takeover bid

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2014

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New Zealand's apparent support of a takeover of the International Cricket Council by India, Australia and England has been strongly criticised.

After details of the takeover plan, which would put control of the ICC in the hands of the three nations emerged yesterday, New Zealand Cricket was forced to quell speculation that it stood to lose millions of dollars if those big three got their way.

But rather than coming across as an unwilling victim of what the New Zealand Cricket Players Association called "scheming" by the Indians, Australians and English, NZC gave a strong impression it supported the revolution.

It issued a short statement under the name of high-profile board member Martin Snedden, who travelled to Dubai with CEO David White for an ICC meeting where the scheme was unveiled. The statement claimed New Zealand would not be "disadvantaged" or the Black Caps "downgraded" under any "changes that are currently proposed".

Snedden and White refused to comment any further publicly, citing "strict" confidentiality provisions from the meeting where the boards of the three big nations revealed a 21-page document which advocates scrapping the Future Tours Programme (FTP).

The NZC statement seemed to be designed to quash speculation the Black Caps would be relegated to a second tier of test cricketing nations who would rarely play the big three or host them on tours here.

The FTP, the brainchild of former NZC chairman Sir John Anderson and former CEO, the late Chris Doig, is the cornerstone of international cricket funding and guarantees the high-profile nations must tour lesser nations such as New Zealand.

The big three's proposed document states that no member nation should be forced to play another, except as bilaterally agreed, while no country should be forced to host "uneconomic tours".

Sources told the Sunday Star-Times last night that NZC will back the takeover and changes after being offered a "sweetener" of more money than it could make from the FTP and the promise the Black Caps will still play India, Australia and England as often as they do now.

But the deal has been criticised by national players' association boss Heath Mills and ex-test cricketer John Morrison.

Mills admitted concern about the developments, saying his association knew little detail of them.

"[But] I do know that in the past six months you've had the heads of English cricket, Australian cricket and Indian cricket meeting quite regularly and scheming to put a new system in place to control the game, so I'm worried," he said on radio yesterday.

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"I don't see how you can be supportive of the heads of three boards conducting meetings without you knowing, talking about how they want the game to be structured.

"As it appears to me, the (ICC) decision-making process is effectively being handed over to three boards who rotate the chairmanship and are soon to be making every decision.

"I think that's alarming. If we want the game to grow globally, we need to have independent thinking about how we grow the game.

‘What I've sensed in the last six months is you've got three organisations that are attempting to control the decision-making, and they will get other people over the line by throwing them some smaller increases in revenue.

"We've just had ten Ashes test matches in a row. We'll just end up with a situation where the three biggest countries play each other more than other countries. Whilst we might get a little bit more revenue from the global share, I doubt they'll be keen to come down here too often."

Morrison agreed and said the restructuring of the ICC restructure was potentially "sad and dangerous" for New Zealand and could still turn the country into a "second division" cricketing nation.

He said he was concerned NZC had a "beneficiary mentality" and challenged it to win boardroom power via the performance of the Black Caps in the series against India, starting with today's one-day international in Napier.

"There's no use having the mentality of 'give us this, give us that'," he said. "That's a beneficiary mentality. You want to control your own destiny and step up and say 'we can foot it on the world stage and we want to be there'." Morrison said the FTP had "worked quite well" for New Zealand - the last tour by India five years ago reaped a $25 million payday for the NZC and the present tour will at least match that despite its being shortened at India's behest.

Former NZC boss Justin Vaughan, who ran the organisation when the FTP was implemented, also expressed concern, saying changing the present revenue-sharing model would leave world cricket "worse off".

- © Fairfax NZ News

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