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Indians help ICC govern world cricket

ICC has grown to be a cosmopolitan body with 35 officials from 7 nations.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 15:16 IST

From being uncharitably called a "paper tiger", the International Cricket Council (ICC) has grown to be a truly cosmopolitan body with 35 officials, including seven Indians, from seven countries working at its Dubai headquarters.

On a visit to the ICC headquarters last week, it was a pleasant discovery that its 35-strong Dubai-based staff includes 13 men and women from England, seven Indians, five Australians (including CEO Malcolm Speed), four Pakistanis (including president Ehsan Mani), three South Africans, two locals and one New Zealander.

This does not include the five-member permanent staff of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) -- an arm of ICC that is however independent of it -- based on the same 11th floor of the Al Thuraya Tower and other ACSU members and a few more officials who are based around the world.

"As a governing body, the ICC is second to none. We are on a very strong basis to move the ICC to the next level so far as the governing of the sport is concerned. When you compare with any other sport, in terms of best practices, governance, transparency, we are there in every sense of the word," Mani said.

Mani, who was born in Pakistan but is settled in London and shuttles between England and Dubai to oversee ICC work, is perhaps the best example of ICC's drastically changed and cosmopolitan set up.

Ninety-six years after England, Australia and South Africa formed the Imperial Cricket Conference in London, the ICC in its present incarnation has 96 members and is set to complete a 'century' of members at its annual meetings in July this year.

Since the beginning, Englishmen, Australians and South Africans had a firm hold on the ICC and they also enjoyed veto power.

But over the last 20 years, as member countries from the Indian subcontinent grew in stature on (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1983, 1992 and 1996 respectively) and off the field (big time sponsorship comes from India), ICC became more and more democratic, multi-ethnic, flexible and effective at the same time.

And this is best evident in its staff that is drawn from seven countries.

"Today, we are one big, cosmopolitan body," averred ICC's media and communications manager Brian Murgatroyd, who comes from Australia and is married to an Indian.

"Cricket is an incredibly diversified game, and ICC has a diverse group of people. At the same time we have the best people (working). That's our maxim."

Until 1993, the president and secretary of the Marylebone Cricket Club, also the guardian of cricket laws, used to be the chairman and secretary of ICC.

This and the three veto rights were abolished in 1993 when West Indies' great Sir Clyde Walcott became ICC's first non-British chairman.

Rules -- and the body's name -- were changed in 1989 and later again to make it more professional.

If in 1965, Imperial Cricket Conference became International Cricket Conference, in 1989 it became International Cricket Council. In 1987, ICC became a company with an executive board and the top boss being called president instead of chairman.

One huge change was the decision to shift the ICC headquarters from the Clock Tower at the Lord's ground in London, where the body was formed June 15, 1909, to Dubai, a tax haven that is well connected with the rest of the world.

Before the headquarters shifted to the rented Al Thuraya Tower accommodation in Dubai's Media City on August 1 last year, the ICC headquarters were based at three different places.

The administrative office was housed at the Lord's cricket ground, the ACSU was based at the Queen Ann's Gate in London and the ICC Development International (IDI) worked from Monaco for tax reasons.

By the end of 2007, the ICC will finally move into its own double-storey building, now under construction close to its present office.