Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Tony Becca | Finally, it now looks like cricket for all

Published:Sunday | June 12, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Manohar

Shashank Manohar is the new independent chairman of the International Cricket Council, (ICC) and already the wheels of change are starting to turn.

The 'Big Three', and their control of the ICC and cricket, is on the way out. All teams will have a say in what happens in cricket from now on. Finances will be distributed fairly, and the plan includes providing all the teams with an equal opportunity to progress.

Manohar, who is the first chairman of the ICC to be elected who is not the president of a member board and, therefore, is not expected to have any binding ties with a member board, is the man leading the changes, and is also the man with the plan.

Before his election, he said that he did not agree with the "takeover" by India, England, and Australia, that it was not good for the game, and that he would change it if and when he got in.

Now he is in, and he plans to change things as quickly as possible.

He plans to "run cricket as a global game and running the ICC as a governing body for the good of all 105 members instead of a favoured few".

"The chairman has gone out of his way to reverse the sense that the 'Big Three' are in control," the ICC chief executive officer, Dave Richardson, said recently.

"There is a bigger desire to regard the ICC as an organisation with 105 members, not just 10 full members who are a select, secluded club with no one else allowed in. We want to be more encompassing and allow opportunities for associate members to graduate."

 

THE PLAN

 

The plan is allow the 105 members to play T20 internationals, then the better ones, the top 35 and 30, would graduate to the 50-over game and be involved in global competitions catering to approximately that number of teams.

"For Test cricket, the top 18 teams will probably play a multi-day format, be it in the Intercontinental Cup or part of a Test league," Richardson continued.

I don't know what Richardson means when he says that "the chairman has gone out of his way to reverse the sense that the 'Big Three' are in control", but whatever he meant, the change, in the cricket itself and in the way payments will be done, is a lovely idea.

The weaker teams will play more cricket among themselves and also against the better teams with the prospect of moving along.

As the ICC now believes, however, that will also get rid of the number of one-sided matches that now plague some games, and the more they play will allow the weaker teams to get stronger and to move along and as far as their talent warrants.

The teams will now have to play teams that they usually don't want to play for fear of losing money, and by playing the better teams, the usually snubbed teams will improve, or should improve.

They will improve even more because of the dangling carrot, the promise that if they are successful, they will get better and will move forward.

Teams like Kenya, Ireland, The Netherlands, and Nepal have been playing cricket for a long time, but despite a shot here and there, in spite of a shot here and there, like newcomers Afghanistan, they are no better off than they were on day one.

As far as the payment of fund goes, each member will get his fair share of the pie. They will not be playing cricket for the enjoyment of and for enrichment of India, England, and Australia.

For the West Indies, however, this does not look so good.

The ICC also proposes a two-tiered Test league with seven teams in the top league and five in the second league in a promotion and relegation system.

If this happens, the West lndies, once the kings of cricket, in Test and in one-day but now only in T20 only, would suffer. The West Indies are ranked number eight in Tests, number eight in one-day, and that would leave them in the company of teams like Zimbabwe and Ireland.

The West Indies would have to fight their way back into the company of teams like Australia, England, India, and South Africa, and in this game of uncertainty, and in the present climate of what is happening in the West Indies, that would not be easy.

 

TOUGH LUCK

 

It would be tough luck, not if things go that way, but if the West Indies find themselves in a pickle when it all happens.

"If we really want Test cricket to survive, we can't have the number of Test teams diminishing. We have to create a proper competition structure which provides for promotion and relegation and opportunities to get to the top," said Richardson.

Changes are coming, cricket needed them for a long time, and it really matters not who gets hurt in the changes. In the long run, in years to come, it will be better for the game.

The changes may even stir the West Indies on to greater things, such as improving their skill to beat teams like India, England, and Australia once again and many times, and to start doing likewise to one like South Africa.

Manohar, a big, tough-talking Indian, the man who walked away from the presidency of the Board of Control for Cricket in India to take over the ICC's top job and be impartial as best as he can be, is in charge.