AT 71 David Morgan, the president of the International Cricket Council, has seen more of the world than he is often given credit for. A successful career that ended with him retiring as commercial director of European Electrical Steel preceded his foray into cricket. After taking a gentle walk around the Wellington harbour, Morgan, who was once so publicity averse that The Guardian newspaper could not find a photograph of his to print when he became England and Wales Cricket Board chief, sat down for a chat with the HT about the issues that dog world cricket.
There has been talk that the sub-continent is not a safe place to play cricket in. Is isolation a possibility?
I don’t think so. I’m sure international cricket will be played in Pakistan again. In the past, many parts of the world have been no-go areas, dangerous areas, but with changes in leadership and attitude, they became safe. It would be a mistake to believe that the only threatened place as far as terrorism is concerned is the Indian sub-continent. The events in Lahore were absolutely dreadful. Quite clearly, Pakistan is not a country where we can send cricket teams and officials in the immediate future. There needs to be a significant change there in the level of safety and security. Having said that, the ICC policy is that Pakistan must not be isolated. The Future Tours Programme commitments for Pakistan need to be fulfilled, even though they can’t happen on Pakistan soil. We are encouraging other nations to entertain Pakistan on their home grounds.
What then is the future of the 2011 World Cup?
That is something we have to consider very carefully. It will be staged on the Indian sub-continent. The programme of matches to be staged between the four countries is still to be finalised.
India’s growing financial clout has put them in a certain position. India vs the ECB, India vs the rest…
I never found it that way when I was chairman of the ECB. I developed very good relationships with Mr Dalmiya and with his successor, Mr Pawar. I never had any difficulty in coming to beneficial agreements. I am keen people see the progress ICC is making and are not left with the impression that the new empire is in India, because it isn’t. India is a very important country in terms of cricket playing, and that’s good. It’s not so long ago that the ICC chief executive of the day (Speed) made a plea to the BCCI that India should start playing better and winning some events. It’s a matter of relief that India is performing. They won the World T20, the U-19 World Cup, the women came third in the Women’s World Cup… It’s good that India is achieving all that. The markets of the world change from time to time. India is currently very strong. My impression is that sport in India is cricket, and cricket in India is sport. It influences the way in which commercial money is directed.
Is there any resentment that once-reluctant India have since hijacked the Twenty20 format through the IPL?
No resentment whatsoever. The IPL is a hugely successful domestic event. All member boards including the BCCI have reaffirmed the ICC’s previously agreed principle that nation versus nation cricket has primacy. It is interesting that IPL authorities have not asked for a discrete slot and that is something that is frequently overlooked.
Does it surprise you that IPL hasn’t asked for a window?
It hasn’t surprised me. I’m very pleased that the primacy of international cricket has been reconfirmed.
What are the chances of cricket being in the Olympics?
I don’t see cricket becoming an Olympic sport in the short term.