Time to revolt, cricket fans
Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
Over the last few days, a storm has been
brewing in the land of cricket governance. That storm involves England, Australia and India, who are all trying to
grapple more power from the already powerless ICC.
In short, a “position paper” has been put
forward for to be voted on. It proposes that
important decisions are left squarely at the feet of India, Australia
and England. The Future Tours Programme will also be abolished and money will
be divided a bit like rugby does – ie, based on who brings in how much money
and so on.
Technically the restructuring of the
governance will only serve to make
official what is almost already happening. But it would also mean nobody in the
power dictatorship could be held accountable for their poor decisions. It’s a power grab of the highest order and, in
the longer run, it will do cricket no good whatsoever.
If you thought South Africa were getting
shafted when it comes to scheduling under the current FTP, just imagine the
state of affairs if that were to be done away with. There is some guarantee from CA and ECB to play three Tests
and five ODIs per the newly proposed cycle against each of the top eight
members, but no word on what the BCCI’s plans are.
As it stands, South Africa isn’t exactly
hot property financially when it comes to tours to the country, but there is
enough money to be made from South Africa touring, especially when it comes to
big match ups. To do away with big fixtures for the number-one ranked Test team
is doing the game a disservice.
Furthermore, South Africa’s been left off
the list of countries set to benefit from what will be a new “Test fund”. This fund, the draft says, will help
Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies with
all their challenges relating to "uneconomical or unfeasible tours".
So does that leave South Africa too small to be big and too big to be small?
CSA have already asked that the proposal is
withdrawn, firing a very PC shot, calling the paper is “fundamentally flawed” and “in breach of
the ICC Constitution”. That’s a good start. Haroon Lorgat has been in the headlines since his appointment as CEO of
CSA and while he has copped much criticism, he has a chance to be a real leader
in standing up to the powers that be. As
Osman Samiuddin wrote in The National, his role in all of this could be
crucial. He is, after all, the man who stood up to the BCCI and the man who
instigated the Lord Woolf governance review. If ever there was a chance for Lorgat to prove
that he has the ability to galvanise and lead opposition and reform, this would
The paper has been a work in progress for
about six months, all in secret. It was first revealed to everyone, including
members of the ICC, on 9 January this year. At the end of the month, it could be put
to vote, meaning everyone else has had just three weeks to think about it,
digest it and make a decision on it.
Many of the suggestions pose some merit, of
course, but that is not the point. Nobody can deny that the ICC needs changing,
but it doesn’t need changing in this way. Power grabbing is not the right way to run a
big, global business like cricket. The
conflict of interests that comes with a dictatorship is far risky.
This is not what cricket fans deserve. Fans
of the game might not be able to vote in its future, but they are major
stakeholders. They are the eyeballs on TV, they are the bums on seats, they are
the messengers who talk about it.
As many well-known brands in South Africa
and elsewhere around the globe have learnt, if you act like a spanner, you will
be lambasted. Cricket and all its members are a brand and they should not be
allowed to get away with this.
Petitions have already been set up, much
outrage has poured over many web pages and some have suggested that fans go so
far as to contact those people in charge of these organisations. Don’t contact
them to be rude, just to let them know that what they’re doing is not cool. Tweet,
email, send a letter or a carrier pigeon.
Make your voice heard.
There is little point in boycotting games
since that’s far too much of a “cut your nose and spite your own face
approach”. Instead, when attending
games, like South Africa’s upcoming Test series against Australia, be sure to
let it be known that the proposal is not on, whether it gets signed off or not.
Make a poster, wear black, make a
statement. Not just about this proposed
paper, but about the way the ICC is run in general. Change is needed and those in charge of the
game need to take ownership of it. Those few good guys who exist in the sport
and really care about it need to act now. Encourage them to do so.
Cricket’s future depends on you.
Antoinette Muller is a freelance writer who writes mainly about
soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have
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