All change for the global game

Far below the antennae and radars of the ‘ordinary’, ticket-buying license fee-paying cricket supporters, a great deal has been happening in the boardrooms of the world which will shape the way the game is watched and supported by the generations to come.

Decisions are being made right now by the ICC’s executive committee which will dictate who plays whom on the international stage until 2020 – and will leave certain aspects of the game irreversibly sidelined, if not dead.

First the good news, and let’s begin with some background: The ‘executives’ which comprise this all-powerful board are not, in fact, executives in the real sense of the word. Sure, they fly business class, stay in five star suites, eat and drink the finest and meet in executive boardrooms, but they do not have their ‘business’ at heart.

Their business, as the ICC, is the health and sustainability of the global game. But they are businessmen, they are merely appointees of their national boards with a very clear mandate to do everything possible in the best interests of their own nation.

Just look at the number of fixtures the ten Test playing nations are due to play in the next eight years. It pretty much directly reflects which nations have the most power and control in the global game. India, England, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan – in that order.

I wish they weren’t called the ICC Executive Committee because, in truth, they have bugger all to do with the ICC. The ICC is full of hard-working, exceptionally committed people who really do care about cricket in Uganda, Fiji and Germany. They really do care whether Aleem Dar is staying in a crap hotel in Ahmedabad. Anyway, the difference now in the attitude of the ICC’s “executive committee” is that they have stopped pretending that they care.

Having paid lip service to the notion of a Test Championship, the draft Future Tours Programme (which was supposed to see each Test nation competing against each home and away) reveals that India will not play a Test match against Zimbabwe and that they will not host Bangladesh. Instead they will play more ODIs than any other nation and will maximise the most lucrative series. It is virtually impossible to conceive a more withering dismissal of the hard work done by real ICC employees.

Oh, and here’s the best part. Indian officials are now fed up with having to rotate the ICC presidency amongst the four or five major regions of the world, so they have made a ‘proposal’ that the democratic system is abolished and that the president is, in future, ‘elected’. And that he can be re-elected.

Of course, this is not, actually, a ‘proposal.’ It is an instruction to those member nations which could not survive financially without India’s patronage. So they will vote for the proposal. And India will have their man elected and we will all, officially, be governed by the BCCI.

In truth, that’s the way it is at the moment anyway but at least we have a semblance of democracy. Not so in the future. Perhaps that is the way it should be? If India controls the global game unofficially, why not make it official?

Well, also included in the draft FTP is an official ‘window’ for the IPL and it means that no international cricket can be scheduled during that time. India is effectively vetoing any cricket played by every other Test nation.

Thin end of the wedge?

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