Money talks in world cricket and wins friends very easily. Purely due to commercial reasons, a financially struggling West Indies Cricket Board is backing the controversial 'Position Paper' piloted by India, England and Australia. The clauses in the proposal paper, if voted in by the Executive Board next month, will change the way cricket will be played and revenue shared by member nations. Satisfied that it stands to gain "at least 100%" over the next eight years, WICB is happy to compromise and back the 'Big Three' dictate the way cricket is governed. (Pakistan, Sri Lanka set to oppose India's proposal of ICC overhaul)
After South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh either objected or demanded more time to understand the proposed changes in ICC's power structure, the West Indies support could be the first among many financially struggling nations towing the 'Big Three' line. In a media statement late on Tuesday, the Caribbeans said: "After extensive discussions and careful consideration the West Indies Cricket Board joined with all other Full Members of the ICC in providing support for key principles relating to the future structure, governance and financial models of the ICC." (Overhaul plan takes cricket back to its 'dark days', says Michael Atherton)
Interestingly, former West Indian skipper and the former chairman of ICC's Cricket Committee Clive Lloyd had reservations on giving executive control to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). On Sunday, voices against ICC's revamp plans grew louder with Lloyd joining ex-ICC top officials Malcolm Gray and Malcolm Speed in demanding withdrawal of the controversial proposal. (India push for lion's share of revenues in ICC meet)
West Indies have lost their glory days. The colourful West Indians are no more the "invincibles" they once were when Lloyd was skipper and one man called Viv Richards smashed the daylights out of the world's best bowlers in the Eighties. Number 7 on the current ICC Test rankings, West Indians no more belong the elite group of Full Member nations who 'rule' the game by sheer performance on the field. (Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Gray oppose ICC revamp plan)
WICB is a house on fire. Snubbed by top stars, salary problems and a plethora of administrative issues have ruined West Indian cricket to the core. Under the circumstances, when revenue is guaranteed and there is no fear of relegation, WICB has wisely chosen not to offend the Big three. It is a sad commentary of a cricketing giant fallen on bad times. Cricket folklore has it that there was a period when the dazzling West Indians demanded "appearance money" to tour, much like the basketball wizards from the US, Harlem Globetrotters. (CSA denies being part of 'unanimous support' in ICC revamp plans)
The WICB release listed the monetary benefits the proposals could bring. "Based on new proposed system of ICC revenue sharing for the upcoming eight year cycle (2015-2023) WICB projects to receive at least 100% increase on the previous eight year cycle (2006-2014)," the release said. The annual Test Match Fund, which is to support Full Members other than India, England and Australia, will "allow the WICB a financial buffer in the hosting of Test cricket against unprofitable teams", the release added.
Also, bilateral arrangements, as opposed to the FTP, will mean West Indies "will not be bound" to host unprofitable tours. "West Indies will have an opportunity, through bilateral agreements, to increase the number of matches and series (Tests, ODIs and T20Is) played annually by the West Indies men's team against higher ranked opposition and against teams, which are profitable to the WICB. These will include matches and series both in the West Indies and overseas."(India-backed ICC's money-minded mentality is grossly counter-productive)
The WICB acceptance will certainly please the 'big' boys of world cricket, especially India. In recent times, West Indies have been good friends of the BCCI. On a short notice in October-November last year, West Indies agreed to play a Test and ODI series that saw Sachin Tendulkar retiring from international cricket at his home ground, Mumbai. West Indies played poor cricket, losing both Tests inside three days, but that did not matter to the BCCI mandarins.
Apart from giving Tendulkar a 'home' farewell, the idea to fly in West Indies was also aimed at teaching South Africa a lesson. India were due to travel to South Africa in November but since the Proteas had announced the full itinerary (comprising three Tests, two T20 internationals and seven ODIs) without India's approval, the BCCI refused to tour and only after hectic parleys, India accepted a two-Test, three ODI tour to fulfill its FTP obligations.
BCCI boss N. Srinivasan and Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat are like arch-enemies. It is not hard to imagine why South Africa are not sitting on the ICC head table with the Big Three despite being the No. 1 Test team in the world. As long as Mr Srinivasan is there, the South Africans are not invited to the party. South Africa's loss is West Indies' gain. Don't be surprised if you see West Indies win a berth in the five-member Executive Committee that can come into force once the proposals are accepted. West Indies have played themselves into a good position. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.