By god, you know matters have come to a wretched pass when you feel inclined to defend and protect the International Cricket Council. And yet, remarkably, such a moment is upon us. Like the old Roman republic, the ICC is threatened by a triumvirate. In this instance, Crassus is represented three times as India, England and Australia bid to carve up cricket’s empire between themselves.
Few people doubt change is needed. The ICC has been broken for ages. It is easy to conclude that it has outlived its usefulness. Nevertheless, that does not mean any proposed alternative is going to produce better outcomes for cricket.
The proposals for reforming cricket’s governance and, more pressingly, its finances are mooted in a 21 page paper that, usefully, has been leaked. You can read it here. The short version however is simple: the Big Three will become richer still and everyone else can go hang.
Since India, England and Australia are the only wealthy cricket countries a sensible man might think further enriching their cricket boards might not be the most important issue international cricket faces. A sensible man would evidently be wrong.
Wrong because he would forget the simplest truth of all: the people who run cricket know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The proposals, effectively, would reduce to eight the number of full-time test nations. At the end of a four year cycle the bottom-ranked team would face a home and away play-off with the top nation from the second tier (ie, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland and, perhaps, Afghanistan) after which the winner would be admitted to the full-time test ranks for the next cycle. On the surface that sounds reasonably meritocratic. Except England, India and Australia will not be allowed to be relegated (should their fortune reach such a nadir) because, well, because they have money and the other countries do not.