Atherton: New Zealand are getting raw deal

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
Mike Atherton
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HAVING HIS SAY: Former England great Mike Atherton.

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Former England opening batsman Mike Atherton has heaped praise on the Black Caps after their ODI series win over world champions India this week. 

Writing in The Times newspaper, Atherton - who captained his country in a record 54 tests - said the New Zealanders were boxing well above their weight and putting the "big three" of England, India and Australia to shame. 

"When you think about the inherent advantages enjoyed by India and England, it is remarkable that New Zealand can be competitive at all," Atherton writes. 

"The Black Caps should enjoy the moment; in years to come, the scoreline will be adjusted to take into account the size of the respective countries' balance sheets."

In a strongly worded column, the English legend takes a massive swipe at the International Cricket Council over proposals on how it should distribute the sport's revenues at the expense of smaller playing nations such as New Zealand. 

"In the working paper, offered up to the ICC by a working party of the Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee, the indication was that on and off-the-field considerations over the past 20 years would be uppermost in deciding how revenues are redistributed" Atherton writes before passing a damning judgement.

"Of course, what that means in reality is whether, by the fortuitous circumstance of geography and history and size of population and economy - of coming, in other words, from a wealthy country - you bring in a lot of money to the ICC through television revenues, or not much. 

"What it does not mean is how well you have played in those ICC events, or how well you have been governed off the field, which are the two things that you have some control over."

Atherton also goes on the describe the sad irony that despite New Zealand Cricket's ground-breaking governance restructure of the mid-90s - when it was slimmed down to seven directors which had to include a former cricketer and a woman - being admired by many in world sport, the organisation stood to lose out. 

"New Zealand is, in cricketing terms, a 'small' country, viewed at the moment by England, India and Australia as little more than a scrounger on benefits, " he says. 

"That they have managed to marshal their lean playing resources in ICC events over the past two decades rather better than most, and that they have the 'gold standard' in governance, counts for nothing under the new proposals.

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"A suitable analogy would be that of two students: one is rich, privately educated and lazy; the other, poor, state-educated and hard-working. Both take the same exams to get into the same university. The rich, lazy student is given a 20 percentage points start over his rival. Sometimes you just have to admire the brazen cheek of it all."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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