In the sixties, Australian writer Hugh Lunn produced a lively story set in Hong Kong called “Spies Like Us”. The ICC directors must have heard of it.
The recently concluded Board meeting in Hong Kong was full of moves a secretive spook would’ve been proud of.
For example, their original plan to hold a ten team World Cup in 2015 had already received formidable flack from the associates. Why did they do an about turn and return it to a fourteen-team event, the same as it was for the overly long 2011 World Cup? All they needed to do was add a qualifying tournament to decide the last two teams so that all ten spots didn’t automatically go to the Test playing nations.
Classic double move
Then in the classic double back move they teach at spy school, the ICC decided to reduce the World T20 from sixteen to twelve teams in both the 2012 and 2014 tournaments.
The T20 format is the sport’s best opportunity to globalise the game and extend the reach of cricket. It’s also the one that can be completed in an acceptable time span so the players aren't sitting around twiddling their thumbs for long intervals.
The T20 format is also the one chance cricket has to escape the suffocating effect of total dependence on India’s wealth to finance the game. And the ICC effectively stifled those opportunities at least in the short term.
Not satisfied, the ICC in an act of unbelievable hubris then asked the Member Boards to free themselves from political interference by the end of 2012.
The move is long overdue, but just that the previous day the ICC had conjured up conclusions on both the Decision Review System [DRS] and the Future Tour Program [FTP] that were classical expedient compromise, the favourite tool of politicians everywhere.
Instead of insisting on important changes to the DRS like the ICC having full control over operating the system and also placing the reviews totally in the hands of the umpires, the BCCI opted for an ineffective and confusing compromise.
Why? Presumably to avoid being forced to play one-sided and financially draining Test series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the new FTP.
In part of an ICC statement issued following the resolution to de-politicise the individual boards, the CEO Haroon Lorgat said; “That through a democratic election process you get the right people to run the sport in the country.”
Why then wouldn’t the ICC set an example and do exactly that when appointing their president?
What with all the efforts to placate India and the obsession with power-broking, the ICC has become the most politicized of all cricketing bodies.
Too bad more people aren't actually spying on the ICC in an effort to make them more accountable.