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New Zealand Cricket express deep concern over the ICC’s ‘Big Three’ proposal

New Zealand Cricket chief, Martin Snedden expressed grave concern over the proposed Two-Tier Test system © Getty Images
New Zealand Cricket chief, Martin Snedden expressed grave concern over the proposed Two-Tier Test system © Getty Images

Jan 22, 2014

The cloud building over the control of international cricket, on Wednesday reached the New Zealand Cricket boardroom. A couple of hours before the second One-Day International between India and New Zealand got underway, the New Zealand Cricket board members were getting ready to discuss an International Cricket Council proposal which cedes power to the ‘big three’ nations and threatens the financial future of the rest.

A copy of the confidential 21-page draft proposal was viewed on Monday night by board member Martin Snedden, reported Fairfax Media.

The report had infuriated Cricket South Africa which labelled it in breach of the ICC constitution and called for it to be scrapped.

“The key things we are looking for are a stable playing programme in international cricket, both in terms of bilateral arrangements between two countries, and also in terms of ICC events through to 2023, and we need a revenue sharing model that enables our revenues to be growing during that same period of time,” Snedden told.

After the NZC board was briefed on India, Australia and England’s planned takeover of future tour schedules, Snedden said they have key concerns they want addressed when the full world executive meets in Dubai next week, reported One Sport.

The ICC’s finance and commercial affairs committee, which includes New Zealand’s ICC president Alan Isaac, presented its proposal to the member boards on January 9.

Snedden was hesitant to describe the board’s reaction to Wednesday’s briefing and reiterated that this is merely the beginning of a negotiation process which could stretch out until April or May.

“It’s really just the start of a process,” Snedden said.

“Not all of the information is on the table or completely clear at the moment so part of what we are doing in our discussions with other countries and with ICC is trying to draw out the specific detail around some of these proposals that may not at the moment be crystal clear.”

Snedden added it was important not to assume the worst this early on and said NZC would be working to assure New Zealand’s continued involvement in an international programme at least similar to what they have now.

“Don’t get caught up in a frenzy about the proposal but actually step back and say ‘how can we move it towards an end result?’,” he said.

“And if we can head this negotiation to an end result which results in the Black Caps having an international playing programme that’s very similar or the same as what they’ve got now, then that’s one really good outcome of this process.”

Crucially, the proposal scraps the existing Future Tours Programme which underpins a fair chunk of NZC’s income from television rights, notably from the current tour by world powerhouses India.

The basic principles of the proposal for tours are: “No member should be forced to play another member except as bilaterally agreed; no member should be forced to host uneconomic tours; and the content and timing of all tours should be agreed bilaterally.”

That goes against the FTP, which New Zealanders John Anderson and the late Chris Doig played a big part in establishing, and ensured regular home and away series with the big powers, India, England and Australia.

Under the proposal, the England Cricket Board and Cricket Australia would agree to just one series (including three Tests and five ODIs) against each of the other top-eight nations for every eight-year cycle. In the current cycle up till 2014, New Zealand had four series against England, two home and two away.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), significantly, isn’t mentioned in this arrangement, suggesting it has the power to make its own rules and agree only to tours that suits it. If India view New Zealand as “uneconomic” then their current tour could be their last.

The proposed sharing model of ICC revenue has India receiving up to 63 per cent, with New Zealand receiving around two per cent, slightly less than West Indies and Sri Lanka.

It reassured member nations that they will receive more revenue from ICC rights deals, a point noted by Snedden at the weekend, but ignores the fact that with fewer big-ticket tours, the smaller nations will have their income from that source slashed.

Curiously, international Twenty20 cricket is given short shrift, with the World T20, which is currently played every two years, to be staged once every four years. Clearly, the big three want to grow their own lucrative domestic T20 competitions and fit international tours of their choice around it.

Cricket South Africa is out in the cold, too. Its chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, is a former ICC boss who proposed placing the ICC in the hands of independent directors. He fell out with the BCCI which drastically reduced India’s recent tour of South Africa.

“Do we have power at the ICC table? Not a hell of a lot. Do we have an ability to influence and persuade? A little bit. The critical thing that David [White] and I have to do is identify those things that are most critical to us and try and ensure we secure the stability of playing programme and stability of revenue that we need,” Snedden concluded.

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