There are pros and cons to the perennial argument that the ICC, the body which rules world cricket, is little more than a self-serving old boys club which has stubbornly clung to the status quo.
The announcement this week that Ireland and Afghanistan have been elevated to full Test status went somewhere towards holding true to the mandate of the ICC’s development department “to improve the quality of international cricket, build better cricket systems, get more people playing cricket and grow the game”. Both the Irish and the players in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation deserve full support of the world’s cricketers.
But along with the announcement came the latest breakdown in the payouts to Test-playing nations, based on current forecast revenues and costs. It overturns the hotly debated system of carving up the money between the dominant Board of Control for Cricket in India and the boards in Australia and England, and leaving the rest to pick up the crumbs.
It was a system which, to his credit, ICC chair, prominent Indian lawyer Shashank Manohar had not been entirely happy with. Manohar was nominated to replace the controversial Narayanaswami Srinivasan who was ousted on November 9, 2015, as chair after the BCCI decided to recall him, effectively ending Srinivasan’s hold on Indian cricket.
Under the new dispensation, the BCCI will receive $405 million across the eight-year cycle, the England and Wales Cricket Board $139 million, the seven existing full members $128 million each, and Zimbabwe Cricket $94 million. But the rub is that associate members will (together with Ireland and Afghanistan, the ICC statement reads) collectively receive funding of $240 million.
It becomes clear that the Irish and the Afghans, glowing with pride though they may be, face a long, hard struggle to join the ranks of the chosen, with one financial foot figuratively anchored in the crease. Irish cricket is not exactly awash with money. Neither does the nation have a cricket ground large enough to generate significant revenue at the gate.
There are even greater problems for Afghanistan as the war continues to wash across the Hindu Kush. Security remains an impossible goal. Afghanistan have already moved from Sharjah to Mumbai for games, leaving them cricketing nomads sharing the fate of Pakistan.