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More tough questions for the ICC

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Mihir Bose | 13:47 UK time, Thursday, 13 March 2008

Malcolm Speed, the retiring chief executive of the International Cricket Council, has submitted a paper to his ICC board warning them that the sport has become dysfunctional.

I understand that in this paper, which will be discussed by cricket's top brass in Dubai this weekend, he also expresses his unhappiness at what he regards as the failure of the cricketing nations to give any leadership to world cricket.

Cricket's disarray is well-documented. The World Cup was a disaster, as Speed has himself already acknowledged.

Since then, India, which produces 80% of world cricket's income, has exercised its economic power to dictate the agenda for the world game while other countries give every appearance of being awed by its financial clout.

They are behaving like rabbits caught in the headlights.

Take, for example, the launch of the two rival Twenty20 leagues in India - both offering vast amounts of money and attracting cricketers in droves - which have caused a furore around the world.

Mannequins representing the new Hyderabad cricket team

However, Speed's comments must be seen in context. For the last few months, his relationship with Ray Mali, who is president of the ICC following the death of fellow South African Percy Sonn, has all but broken down.

I am told that for months the two men were barely on speaking terms. They now talk and exchange e-mails, but they are miles apart on various issues, most notably Zimbabwe. This will come as no surprise to those who read my blog.

Back in June, just before the ICC was due to holds its annual meeting at Lord's, I disclosed that I had seen a seen a copy of Speed’s confidential report.

In it, he wrote: "My personal view, shared by the cricket committee and ICC senior management, is that the game in Zimbabwe and, more widely, the rest of the cricket world will not be well served by Zimbabwe resuming Test cricket at this stage.

“It is respectfully suggested that we must find other ways to assist cricketers in Zimbabwe.”

Mali did not agree with that view, prompting a breach between the two men that has not yet been healed.

The problems in Zimbabwe cricket are many and public but a very damaging report about the association's lack of proper financial accounting emerged at the Lord's meeting last summer. I had access to this forensic audit report, which was co-signed by Speed and the ICC's chief financial officer Faisal Hasnain.

The conclusion Speed and Hasnain drew was devastating.

"It is clear that the accounts of ZC (Zimbabwe Cricket) have been deliberately falsified to mask various illegal transactions from the auditors and government of Zimbabwe."

Indeed, so serious did Speed and Hasnian feel the situation was that they concluded "it may not possible to rely on the authenticity of its balance sheet".

The result was that accounting firm KPMG South Africa was asked to carry out a forensic audit, the results of which will be presented to the board in Dubai.

The British government is very interested in this report. Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, inquired about it two weeks ago when he met Speed, Mali, David Morgan, the incoming ICC President, and Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Depending what the report says, the government will decide whether it will allow Zimbabwe cricket officials to come to Lord's this summer for the annual ICC meeting.

If the government refuse to grant them visas, the ICC may move the meeting, effectively cutting its last link with Lord's, its former home.

Dubai should also see the ICC announce the replacement for Speed. It will be interesting if it is Inderjit Bindra, former head of the Indian Cricket Board who is now India's representative on the ICC.

More than a decade ago, he was a contender for the first Indian to become president of the ICC. However, the post went to his successor as head of the Indian board, Jagmohan Dalmiya, who got the job only after fierce resistance from England and Australia.

This was a time when England and Australia, as founding members of the ICC, had veto powers and India's economic power had not yet emerged with quite the force it has.

All that has changed. India's power is almost unchallenged in the corridors of the ICC, as Bindra's election would no doubt confirm.

Comments

  1. At 01:48 AM on 14 Mar 2008, RUPAK MITRA wrote:

    With great performance in Australia , two cash reach 20/20 league, and booming Indian economy eager to invest money in Cricket it is sure India would rule the cricket world for some times to come.
    Step aside England, Change of Guard.

  2. At 11:29 AM on 14 Mar 2008, vivan talwar wrote:

    WORLD CRICKET
    Born:18**
    Died:2008
    Cause of death: Economic Homicide
    Charged: India
    Guilty: India
    RIP

    And all this from a patriotic Indian who loves cricket.

  3. At 12:48 PM on 14 Mar 2008, Amit Ghose wrote:

    20-20 Tourneys like IPL, ICL will definitely fetch money and boisterous revelry but cricket in its true sense - class and arristrocacy will lose its sheen.

  4. At 07:12 PM on 19 Mar 2008, Valerie Crotty wrote:

    Is this the revenge for the terrible showing of India and Pakistan in World Cup?

    Given the chance, the Windies will rise again!

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