Hard working officials gather in Sydney

While the cricket world’s focus and attention has been concentrated on the best players in the world for the last two weeks the game’s leading administrators have also been hard at work behind the scenes.

The International Cricket Council held a two day Board meeting in Sydney on Monday and Tuesday before the six-day Super Test started on Friday at the SCG. The presidents and chairmen or chief executives of the ten Test playing countries and three representatives of the Associate members of the ICC met to discuss what the ICC said were “key issues in the game.”

First on the agenda of key issues was “an invitation from the Organising Committee for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi for cricket to take part in the Games.”

Imagine the controversy that would be generated should the world’s Test playing nations adopt contrasting approaches to such an invitation. Some might send ‘A’ teams, others full strength teams and others still might be tempted to send junior or even amateur teams. Such a scenario might cause untold embarrassment with minor nations like Bangladesh toppling more fancied ones like Papua New Guinea.

And it would be futile attempting to reach agreement on such an issue via teleconference. Everyone inadvertently interrupts each other on those things and then everyone ends up talking at the same time because of the various time delays around the world. Even video-conferencing isn’t the same as actually meeting in the flesh and looking into your colleague’s eyes over a couple of good dinners. Besides, the issue needed resolution. The Delhi Games are only five years away.

Next on the agenda was the “potential role 20/Twenty cricket may have in international cricket.” Another critical topic that needs the game’s most urgent attention. A co-ordinated approach is vital if the cricket world is going to control the expansion of the 20-over game and prevent it from ingesting the 50-over one-day international as the premier form of limited overs cricket.

The third topic of discussion for the elite administrative brains trust was the “feasibility of changing to the current five year playing calendar to a six year calendar.”

The importance of resolution in this regard cannot be underestimated. It has been hard enough in recent years to fit the compulsory Test and one-day series into a crowded, five year schedule. If important new tournaments like the Afro-Asia Cup are to survive then the world simply has to agree upon expansion of the time frame available.

Finally, the ICC announced that “a number of commercial issues relating to ICC Events” needed to be discussed. These matters can be very complicated and they are all, naturally, very important to the game and therefore demand a good deal of our leaders’ time and application.

And I am delighted to say the meeting was a resounding success with resolution reached on every issue.

2010 Commonwealth Games:

“The ICC Board asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to meet with the local Organising Committee to discuss cricket’s participation in the event and the appropriate format. The BCCI was asked to then come back to the Board with its recommendations concerning cricket’s participation in the Games,” said an ICC statement.

20/Twenty cricket:

“Initial discussion took place on the potential role of 20/Twenty cricket in the international playing calendar. The Board viewed research from both the England & Wales Cricket Board and the United Cricket Board of South Africa. The Board decided to ask ICC’s management to conduct further work on the subject ahead of further discussions at the next Board meeting, in March 2006,” said an ICC statement.

Five and six-year calendar:

The Board received its first report on the practicality of and issues surrounding the replacing the current five-year international playing calendar with a six-year schedule. The Board was encouraged by the report and asked the ICC’s management to continue its work on the subject. The matter will be discussed again at the next Board meeting, in March 2006,” said an ICC statement.

Future Events:

“A discussion took place on Events scheduled to take place following the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007. No decision was made on awarding any event to any country or countries post-2007 and no submissions to stage any such events were received. It was agreed that any country or countries wishing to be awarded an ICC Event would have to provide evidence of compliance in four key areas related to holding such an Event. Tax, Facilities, Visas, Venues.

“A final decision on the venue for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 will be taken at the Annual Conference at Lord’s in June 2006,” an ICC statement said.

If international players are to have confidence in their off-field leaders then it is vital that they know how hard they are working and can see how much worldwide agreement there is between them. Apparently, there wasn’t a single dissenting voice when the proposal was made to meet up again early next year somewhere else nice in the world.

And to show that they weren’t just in Sydney for important meetings and that they really cared about the actual playing side of the game, the head men of all national associations stayed on in Sydney to watch the Super Test. Good on you gentlemen. A toast to you all!

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