Lord Woolf recommendations: Panacea or pipe dream? - Part 2 of 4

The Indian team waits for a Decision Review System (DRS) review during the 2011 ICC World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium. The DRS is one area where the International Cricket Council (ICC) hasnâ t been able to get a firm hold of the matter and apply it uniformly across all matches © Getty Images

At the initiative of International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, Lord Woolf along with consulting major Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has conducted an independent review of the affairs of the ICC. Do the far reaching and radical recommendations of the report hold the key to a more robust ICC? Madan Mohan takes an in depth look. 

Part 1 of this series discussed the review of the International Cricket Council (ICC) undertaken by Lord Woolf and the report thereon. This instalment will focus on the proposals of the report with regard to the structure and role of the ICC Board of the ICC. 

The ICC Board as the Woolf Report sees it


The ICC Board manages the affairs of the ICC and comprises 16 directors. Ten of these are representatives of Full Member nations, three of Associate/Affiliate nations and the ICC President, Vice President and Chief Executive bring up the remainder. 


The report regards the role of the President as ceremonial and recommends that the ICC Board should be led by an independent Chairman. It recommends the role of President and Chairman respectively to be clearly defined and the Chairman’s role to be remunerated. It also recommends that if the Chairman appointee holds a post in a Member Board, he should be required to give up said post.


The report goes on to suggest defined tenures for members of the Board and limits of the number of terms they can be appointed to. It recommends that the primary duty of the directors must be to the ICC and the secondary duty to the Member Board they represent. The report also recommends the appointment of independent directors. They are plenty more details that are rather interesting for this writer to peruse of, but not necessarily for the general cricket watching demographic!

Implications of the proposals


In essence, the Woolf Report seeks to transform the ICC Board into a corporate boardroom.   Much emphasis is placed on defining duties and functions of the directors, on binding Members to the resolutions of the Board and on the role of independent directors. The report states that some of the Member Boards like England and Wales Cricket Board or Cricket South Africa have already recognised the benefit of independent members. It seeks to eliminate conflict of interest and envisages the ICC Board as a professional, executive body with clearly defined roles and processes. 

Just how feasible is it?


At the outset, it must be noted that the recommendation to create the post of a Chairman for the ICC has been embraced with palpable enthusiasm. One wonders whether such enthusiasm would also greet the other recommendations with respect to the ICC Board.  For, in the absence of a transparent and professional board, the post of Chairman could serve as a lethal weapon to exert even more influence on the functioning of the ICC. 


As such, the Board in any organisation is seen as a potent source of power and even in a professional corporate body, the ability to influence the decisions of the Board, by whatever means, becomes crucial and much sought after.  


The ICC Board is but a long way off from such a structure as what the Woolf Report proposes. It is the meeting place for the representatives of Member Boards and possibly a stage to reinforce bragging rights. So much was evident from the ICC’s flip-flop over the Decision Review System (DRS) or over the 2015 World Cup qualification.  


Even some changes to the structure of the Board may, therefore, not alter its character.   The report regards duties to the ICC as primary and those to the Member countries as secondary and that would appear to be several degrees removed from reality. Reforming the structure of the board can go only so far if the intentions are not what they are meant to be.  At present, the ICC Board is purportedly broken into factions and which faction gets the better of the other bears upon the decisions of the ICC. 


In summary


Not that one can fault Lord Woolf for recommending reforms to the ICC Board because it would be a step in the right direction. But unless the recommendations of the review as such are embraced in spirit and not letter, changes, if any, may be cosmetic at best in the near future. The ICC Board may continue to witness heavyweight bouts rather than collective decision making.          


(Madan Mohan is a 26-year-old chartered accountant from Mumbai. The writing bug bit him when he was eight and to date, he has not been cured of it. He loves music, cricket, tennis and cinema and writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake. He also writes a blog if he is not feeling too lazy at http://rothrocks.wordpress.com/)


Part 1: Lord Woolf recommendations – Panacea or pipe dream?