Time to revolt, cricket fans

Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)

Over the last few days, a storm has been brewing in the land of cricket governance. That storm involves England, Australia and India, who are all trying to grapple more power from the already powerless ICC.

In short, a “position paper” has been put forward for to be voted on. It proposes that  important decisions are left squarely at the feet of India, Australia and England. The Future Tours Programme will also be abolished and money will be divided a bit like rugby does – ie, based on who brings in how much money and so on.   

Technically the restructuring of the governance  will only serve to make official what is almost already happening. But it would also mean nobody in the power dictatorship could be held accountable for their poor decisions.  It’s a power grab of the highest order and, in the longer run, it will do cricket no good whatsoever.

If you thought South Africa were getting shafted when it comes to scheduling under the current FTP, just imagine the state of affairs if that were to be done away with.  There is some  guarantee from CA and ECB to play three Tests and five ODIs per the newly proposed cycle against each of the top eight members, but no word on what the BCCI’s plans are.

As it stands, South Africa isn’t exactly hot property financially when it comes to tours to the country, but there is enough money to be made from South Africa touring, especially when it comes to big match ups. To do away with big fixtures for the number-one ranked Test team is doing the game a disservice.

Furthermore, South Africa’s been left off the list of countries set to benefit from what will be a new “Test fund”.  This fund, the draft says, will help Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies with all their challenges relating to "uneconomical or unfeasible tours". So does that leave South Africa too small to be big and too big to be small?

CSA have already asked that the proposal is withdrawn, firing a very PC shot, calling the paper is “fundamentally flawed” and “in breach of the ICC Constitution”. That’s a good start. Haroon Lorgat has been in the headlines since his appointment as CEO of CSA and while he has copped much criticism, he has a chance to be a real leader in standing up to the powers that be.  As Osman Samiuddin wrote in The National, his role in all of this could be crucial. He is, after all, the man who stood up to the BCCI and the man who instigated the Lord Woolf governance review.  If ever there was a chance for Lorgat to prove that he has the ability to galvanise and lead opposition and reform, this would be it.

The paper has been a work in progress for about six months, all in secret. It was first revealed to everyone, including members of the ICC, on 9 January this  year. At the end of the month, it could be put to vote, meaning everyone else has had just three weeks to think about it, digest it and make a decision on it.

Many of the suggestions pose some merit, of course, but that is not the point. Nobody can deny that the ICC needs changing, but it doesn’t need changing in this way.  Power grabbing is not the right way to run a big, global business like cricket.  The conflict of interests that comes with a dictatorship is far risky.

This is not what cricket fans deserve. Fans of the game might not be able to vote in its future, but they are major stakeholders. They are the eyeballs on TV, they are the bums on seats, they are the messengers who talk about it.

As many well-known brands in South Africa and elsewhere around the globe have learnt, if you act like a spanner, you will be lambasted. Cricket and all its members are a brand and they should not be allowed to get away with this.

Petitions have already been set up, much outrage has poured over many web pages and some have suggested that fans go so far as to contact those people in charge of these organisations. Don’t contact them to be rude, just to let them know that what they’re doing is not cool. Tweet, email, send a letter or a carrier pigeon.  Make your voice heard.

There is little point in boycotting games since that’s far too much of a “cut your nose and spite your own face approach”.  Instead, when attending games, like South Africa’s upcoming Test series against Australia, be sure to let it be known that the proposal is not on, whether it gets signed off or not.

Make a poster, wear black, make a statement.  Not just about this proposed paper, but about the way the ICC is run in general.  Change is needed and those in charge of the game need to take ownership of it. Those few good guys who exist in the sport and really care about it need to act now. Encourage them to do so.

Cricket’s future depends on you.

Antoinette Muller is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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