ECB backs ICC shake-up
London - England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke has defended the International Cricket Council's (ICC) decision to give Australia, England and India more power in the sport.
It was announced after a board meeting in Dubai last month that a new ICC executive committee would be established to include representatives from the ECB, Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
However, the plan has received widespread criticism with some suggesting the 'big three' will take over at the expense of the other cricketing nations.
"The ICC need to go to market this year with their broadcast and sponsorship rights for the period 2015-2023," Clarke told the ECB website (www.ecb.co.uk) on Tuesday.
"The ICC president (Alan Isaac) asked India, Australia and ourselves ... to come up with a proposal that will guarantee the participation of all nations in those events (because without that guarantee the rights would be seriously devalued) and at the same time benefit all countries. That is what we have done."
Clarke, ECB chairman since 2007, denied that only Australia, England and India would benefit from the changes.
"The perception is completely wrong," he said. "All countries earn more through this proposal. No one doubts that India's contribution to world cricket is extremely important and that should be recognised.
"However, it was interesting to see that both West Indies and New Zealand were quick to point out the advantages to them.
"West Indies said that they were expecting a rise of 100 percent in income. No member would earn less and if our predictions are correct most will earn an awful lot more. How can that be bad for cricket?".
The world test championship, due to take place in England in 2017, has been scrapped under the new plans.
Clarke defended the decision to replace the competition with the Champions Trophy one-day tournament that was originally dropped from the schedule after the 2013 edition in England.
"The world test championship was an interesting concept but we must remember test match cricket has never been a knockout format," he said.
"It was very difficult to find a formula for a short, sharp competition that would appeal to cricket supporters and also broadcasters and sponsors.
"Countries that have 'finals' for their four-day competitions have found they often fail to produce exciting cricket."
Clarke said the executive committee would create a new fund for the 10 test-playing nations.
"The ICC has agreed to establish a test match fund of $12.5 million per country over eight years available to all except England, India and Australia - which will allow those countries which find test cricket difficult to sustain economically the opportunity to continue to stage test matches," he explained.
"This is vital for countries like West Indies and Sri Lanka, not to forget New Zealand.
"At the same time the ICC will increase the prize money for the test rankings so not only is there an incentive to play test cricket but also an incentive to do well in that format," added Clarke.