Significant changes to cricket agreed at ICC

RIZWAN ALI AND GERALD IMRAY
Last updated 07:20 29/01/2014

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Significant changes to the way international cricket is run were agreed in principle by the ICC board on Tuesday, the governing body said, although they were toned down from a set of radical proposals put forward by the game's big three: India, England and Australia.

"Key principles" that had "unanimous support" from the board at its meeting in Dubai, according to the ICC, included the dumping of the troubled test championship, which will be replaced in 2017 by the limited-overs Champions Trophy competition.

The International Cricket Council also said a new executive committee would be set up consisting of representatives from India, England and Australia and two other representatives taken from the ICC board.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India, England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia had proposed a four-member executive committee, with those three countries deciding who joined them and rotating the chair between them.

The ICC said anyone from its board, which is made up of the 10 test-playing nations and three representatives of smaller cricket countries, could eventually be elected to chair the board and anyone on the executive committee or influential finance and commercial affairs committee could chair those, but only after a "transitional period" ends in 2016.

Until then, India, England and Australia would lead the governing body's top committees.

It was also agreed in principle that smaller countries would also have the chance to play test cricket, but no one would lose their test status. The ICC didn't give detail on how current non test-playing countries might win the right to play tests.

India, England and Australia had suggested a reduced eight-team top tier for tests with two countries immediately relegated, regular promotion and relegation, but immunity from relegation for the big three.

Tuesday's proposed changes were yet to be formally adopted, with ICC President Alan Isaac saying "extensive work will now be undertaken in advance of a follow-up board meeting next month."

Isaac also expressed disappointment that there had been what he called "misconceptions" over the 21-page document initially put forward by the BCCI, ECB and CA which was leaked and widely criticized.

"Several months ago I encouraged BCCI, CA and ECB to enter into a constructive dialogue together to help resolve some of the key commercial and governance issues facing the game," Isaac said in the ICC statement. "It is obviously very disappointing that a draft position paper from these members was leaked as this prompted a debate that ignored the ongoing negotiations between all members and led to unwarranted criticism of many of those involved in the process."

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Before the start of Tuesday's board meeting, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashaf told a Pakistani television station that his board was united with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in opposing the radical proposals, which would have needed eight of the 10 test nation votes to be passed.

Although the principles ultimately agreed on were watered down, there were concessions that India, England and Australia would take more control of the ICC, recognizing the reality that the three countries, and especially India, raise a huge portion of the ICC's revenue.

Some of the changes agreed in principle are:

- An opportunity for all member countries to win the right to play tests, "with participation based on meritocracy," according to the ICC. There were no details of any promotion format.

- A test cricket fund will make money available annually to the other seven test countries outside the big three: Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. This would be introduced to "encourage and support test match cricket," the ICC said, with the game's flagship format struggling to make money away from the big three.

- Bilateral agreements for test series could come into effect from 2015, a move away from the ICC-controlled Future Tours Program which ensured big teams had to play series against smaller teams at some point in the rotation. Bilateral agreements would give India, England and Australia more scope to pick and choose who and when they play.

- The ICC said the powerful and rich Indian board would take "a central leadership responsibility."

- The new five-member executive committee made up a representative from the BCCI, the ECB, CA and two other members. For two years from June the BCCI would chair the ICC board, CA would chair the executive committee and the ECB would chair the influential finance and commercial affairs committee while the governing body undergoes a "transitional period."

- The test championship planned for 2017 will be dropped and the 50-over Champions Trophy played in its place.

- AP

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