New Zealand Cricket goes into bat for Indian tours

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014

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New Zealand Cricket could be granted its wish for regular tours by India in exchange for supporting a watered down revamp of the International Cricket Council's controversial governance and revenue sharing revamp.

NZC chief executive David White and board member Martin Snedden went into last night's ICC executive meeting in Dubai amid widespread outrage at the proposed radical changes which will be voted on by the 10 full member nations.

Former NZC chairman Sir John Anderson, a widely respected cricket administrator who was prominent in establishing the Future Tours Programme, added to the chorus of disapproval yesterday. He emailed former ICC chairman Ehsan Mani supporting his call for the proposal to be scrapped. "The proposal will probably create a division in the test-playing nations which will undermine all test playing nations' revenues as test cricket will have no context," Anderson wrote.

Mani's letter of protest was undersigned by former senior ICC officials, Australians Malcolm Gray and Malcolm Speed, and publicly supported by former England captain Mike Atherton and former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe among others. Mani's calculation had NZC losing as much as $50 million in the next eight years under the new revenue sharing model.

NZC went in to the pivotal meeting with five set goals: a workable governance system at the ICC; ratification of the existing FTP schedule through to 2020, with the hope of extending it to 2023; confirmation of the current ICC events schedule (World Cups and World T20) through to 2023; a firm commitment from India to the FTP and ICC events schedule; and an ICC revenue sharing model "that guarantees strong growth of NZC's revenue for the 2015-23 period".

That appeared ambitious given the gloomy outline in the ICC 'position paper', but Snedden remained confident of getting a good deal for NZC despite the dominance of the big three.

Reports yesterday pointed to behind the scenes deals by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in exchange for other nations agreeing to the revenue sharing model which awards India a much bigger chunk of ICC income. Previously, all 10 nations received an even split of revenue.

Cricinfo reported the BCCI, England Cricket Board and Cricket Australia would present the seven other full member nations - including New Zealand - with a set of re-drafted 'resolutions' around their 'position paper' that has caused so much angst.

That includes scrapping the idea of a two-tier format for test cricket which involves relegation for the ninth and 10th ranked sides, and extending the newly formed executive committee from four to five, with a second nominee coming in from the 'small seven'. In the ICC's position paper, the big three would all be represented on the committee along with one other nation.

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The BCCI was leading the discussions with six other nations, including New Zealand, but without Cricket South Africa which has offered the most vocal opposition. Promises of India agreeing to their FTP commitments in coming years - a crucial issue for NZC and its financial position - were being used as "bait", Cricinfo reported.

Snedden said NZC supported India gaining a bigger slice of the pie but it was vital that the big three agreed to tour New Zealand every four years. Indian tours are by far the most lucrative, with huge television rights going to the host nation.

"There's a bunch of discussions happening in the background that we and everyone else is involved in. Lobbying is one way of putting it; negotiation, positioning, it's a robust negotiation here. We've got to be in the middle of it and we've got to be trying to influence in the direction of those guidelines," Snedden said last week.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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