It is nearly two months since Shashank Manohar stepped down as ICC chairman. The ICC Board, which is supposed to finalise the election protocol, has met several times, but is yet to agree on any process, let alone choosing a unanimous candidate.
According to Heath Mills, one of the directors at the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), the delay is “unacceptable”. Mills, who is also the CEO of the New Zealand Players Association, says the ICC Board should be mullling over the future health of the game and how it should evolve rather than dealing with politics that hurt all stakeholders including players and fans.
What do you make of the delay in the ICC failing to appoint a new chairman?
It is a very disappointing situation at the moment with the lack of leadership at international level in our sport. It is a very poor reflection on the game actually. The previous chairman [Manohar] stepped down a couple of months ago now, but prior to that I’m not sure how engaged he was there for some time.
And sadly it appears that the ICC Board can’t even organise itself to determine a process to elect a new chairman, let alone appoint someone. It is really disappointing especially at this particular juncture in time when we need global leadership given the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on many countries and the fact the current events cycle ends in a couple of years. Electing a chairperson for any board should be a pretty basic democratic election process and the fact that can’t be achieved should have all cricket people concerned.
Yes, the ICC was in the middle of finalising global events for the new cycle beginning after the 2023 World Cup.
The current events cycle is going to finish soon in just over two years and we currently don’t know what the ICC events schedule will be post-2023. We don’t know what the FTP looks like post-2023 for both the men’s and women’s games. We don’t know how ICC events are going to fit in with that FTP or how both these international programmes are going to fit with the big [domestic] T20 events.
This is the time when we need a global body that should be trying to bring everyone together to determine a schedule that works for the whole game including men, women, full members, associate members and the big T20 leagues. Yet the ICC Board can’t seem to even sort out who is going to get to chair it.
Frankly I just think that’s just unacceptable. Someone needs to stand up and explain to the cricketing stakeholders why they can’t agree a process, and why all the secrecy? The ICC Board, whether they like it or not, effectively represents all the various cricketing stakeholders around the world. They have a high office and they need to be accountable. We just hope they can get together, agree a process, elect the leader and stop any games occurring behind the scenes. At the moment it just sort of feels like everyone’s in a state of inertia.
Why do you think there is this sort of deadlock?
The ICC say they are a global governing body so everyone involved in the world game looks to them to lead us. And yet when you hear that they haven’t even been able to agree a process to elect a chairman it doesn’t give people confidence in those running the sport. It just makes you suspicious of what’s going in the background and that people are acting in self-interest as we’ve seen so many times in the past. It’s just more of the same and it is sad.
Maybe it’s time look at the governance structure. There are 17 [directors] on the ICC Board and only one of them (Indra Nooyi) is independent at moment. So, of course, you are probably going to get that dynamic where people act in their own interest and not in what is best for the sport globally.
“From the players’ perspective the annual calendar is very, very full and at times lacks context and meaning. The answer to us is not necessarily more ICC events.”
With no global event until October 2021, don’t you think the ICC can utilise this period not just planning events in the post-2023 cycle but also how the game should evolve?
Post-2023, as we sit here today, there’s no cricket scheduled. It is not that far away. The players and fans, they want to have confidence in those people who are leading our sport to be able to do the right thing for everyone. Given what is going on at ICC Board level at the moment you don’t have any confidence that we are going to get good outcomes.
We don’t know how many ICC events there will be in the next cycle or who is even organising the next FTP and which teams will be involved. Importantly, how are those two important components of our playing schedule going to coexist with the big T20 leagues like the IPL? All of these important events and programmes look like they are going to be organised independent of each other again, which is hopeless.
We never seem to take these opportunities to work together to get the best outcomes for the sport. We all understand how the member boards want to claim sovereignty and worry about themselves but ultimately we all need each other for the game to truly thrive. This is the one time when we have a chance to map out a schedule that considers all factors and work together to get the best alignment of all three event components. This is the time we need the ICC Board to be functioning well, to be well-led and to ensure the game has a schedule that makes sense to everyone post-2023.
The ICC management was planning to have additional events in the new events cycle from 2023. What is the FICA view?
We are always in favour of ICC events because they have context and are essential for a number of the boards and player groups around the world for the shared revenue they generate. However, the number of events we have needs to be balanced alongside a meaningful FTP, also the big T20 leagues.
From the players’ perspective the annual calendar is very, very full and at times lacks context and meaning. The answer to us is not necessarily more ICC events. If that’s the answer in and of itself we’re asking the wrong question. It is about how do we fit the ICC events with the FTP and the big T20 leagues. That is the more important question. You can’t look at any of those things in isolation to get the best results for the game overall globally.
Some might ask, why is the FICA concerned about the delay in appointment of the ICC chairman and global events?
FICA represents the majority of players around the world and they (ICC) do tend to rely on the players to help them generate quite a lot of revenue. The players, both professional and amateur, along with the fans and a number of administrators around the world have actually got quite a lot riding on our leaders and how they shape the game in the future. So I would hope that they would listen to those most affected by their decisions and start to get organised better.