The ICC must believe it’s possible: “You can fool all of the people all of the time,” judging by their outlandish performance at the latest executive Board meeting.
Before Zimbabwe officials arrived for the ICC meeting their two priorities would have been to retain their elite status vote and still get paid in full. Amazingly, for a cricket body that has been under a cloud for the way it has administered the game, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) extracted exactly those promises from the meeting and in addition they don’t have to perform to get paid. The ICC, or at least the Zimbabwe apologists among the Board members, said before the meeting that the objective was to keep the game alive in a country that has been raped by a rogue President. The ICC sentiment is laudable but the problem has been the serious question mark over the way ZC has been distributing its funds.
A recent independent audit indicated possible shady dealings by ZC and reports suggest the game’s infrastructure has been neglected by local officials. Consequently, the statement by the ZC chairman Peter Chingoka that; “We have decided to pull out (of the T20 World Cup) in the larger interests of the game,” rings hollow.
More like they pulled out of the tournament to keep everyone happy on a Board renowned for it’s politicking and power broking and in return ZC retained all its perks.
Ironically, the best way for Zimbabwe to recover its cricketing credibility is via the Twenty20 game. There is no way their standard of play is good enough for either Test or fifty-over match but in the recent world T20 tournament in South Africa they had a meritorious victory over Australia.
Still, it appears as though Zimbabwe won’t go short of cricket in the future. Following the meeting Chingoka said: “We are now looking forward to more tours and international cricket with our Asian friends, especially India.” And it sounds like he won’t have any trouble gaining “official” status for those matches in return for his tainted vote.
As if the Zimbabwe charade wasn’t enough for one meeting, the ICC excelled itself by declaring the England victory over Pakistan at The Oval in 2006 a draw instead of a forfeit. After almost two years of acrimonious debate and legal posturing, the ICC declared that, “in light of the unique set of circumstances the original result was felt to be inappropriate.”
No matter in what way Pakistan feels it was wronged at The Oval there is no more appropriate punishment for a team that refuses to play on, than to have the match awarded to their opponents.
Throughout the 129 years of Test cricket many teams had been wronged and angered over the way matters conspired to harm their chances of victory, but none had ever refused to play on. In the end commonsense always prevailed, until all sanity flew out of the Pakistan dressing room window at The Oval. A forfeit was the only conclusion to be drawn and only the ICC could come to any other decision.
The ICC structure means it often doesn’t react quickly to issues and smouldering embers regularly turn into raging bushfires. But, this latest meeting surpassed all it’s previous efforts and it now seems as though the only one it is fooling is itself.