Atherton slams 'Big Three' plan

2014-01-28 09:39
Michael Atherton (File)

London - Former England captain Michael Atherton and a leading global anti-corruption watchdog have joined the chorus of criticism regarding plans to effectively cede control of world cricket to India, Australia and England.

Leaked draft proposals to be discussed at a two-day International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting in Dubai on Tuesday and Wednesday call for more decision-making powers for a three-strong group of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board, who between them represent the game's wealthiest nations.

There is also a plan to create two divisions for Test cricket but with England, Australia and India all guaranteed to avoid relegation from the top tier because of their commercial importance.

Atherton, now the cricket correspondent of The Times, was scathing in his condemnation of the proposals, writing they represented "the end of the notion that a fair and principled and just body can govern cricket in the interests of all".

Atherton agreed the ICC had to be reformed but said there was little merit in the 'Big Three' plan.

"No one doubts that the status quo, as far as the ICC is concerned, is unacceptable: two full-member countries are thought to be corrupt; four are essentially broke; most rely on India's largesse to keep going... Politics, race and personalities interfere with decision-making at every turn. Incompetence is a given."

Meanwhile, Transparency International issued a statement on Monday saying the "intention to entrench a privileged position for 'The Big Three' appears to be an abuse of entrusted power for private gain, giving them disproportionate, unaccountable and unchallengeable authority".

If adopted, the plan would also mean the end of the ICC's existing Future Tours Programme, a system which compels the leading 10 Test nations to play each other during a set period.

But the plan's supporters argue boards would be freed from "unviable" tours, whatever their merit in cricketing terms, and that this would lead 'the seven' beyond the 'Big Three' to become more financially self-sufficient.

The proposals need seven votes from the ICC's 10 leading nations to pass.

The BCCI has also appeared to float 'the nuclear option' of withdrawing from all ICC events if the proposals are not accepted.

This is a potentially disastrous situation for many of the game's smaller nations given the BCCI, thanks to cricket's huge popularity in India, currently generates some 80 percent of the ICC's global revenue.

Nevertheless, Cricket South Africa and Sri Lanka Cricket, representing two leading countries, if not two of the most financially powerful, have both called for the withdrawal of the 'position paper'.

Leading former senior administrators, led by Pakistan's one-time ICC president Ehsan Mani, have also denounced the 'Big Three' plan.

"Why does the BCCI need more money at the expense of other countries?," Mani wrote in an open letter to the ICC, adding more funds should be diverted to cricket's junior nations.

"If cricket could be established properly in the United States of America and China and become an Olympic sport, the ICC could double its revenues in real terms over the next 10-15 years," he said.

"This requires vision and a less parochial approach."

Ali Bacher, a former South Africa captain, warned of dire consequences if the 'Big Three' plan was adopted.

"The Position Paper put forward by BCCI, ECB and CA if accepted would lead to division and strife in world cricket as never seen before," wrote Bacher.

However, New Zealand Cricket's Martin Snedden has been a relatively lone voice in insisting there was more to the scheme than a naked power grab by the 'Big Three'

"Get this right and the FTP playing programme can be extended to 2023 and we can line it up with ICC events like the World Cup and World T20," said Snedden.

"That would be a stable platform to work from," he also told the New Zealand Herald.

Read more on:    icc  |  michael atherton  |  cricket

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

The Proteas have announced plans to play a four-day Test against Zimbabwe starting on Boxing Day. What do you make of this?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.