It's official. Sri Lanka have decided to oppose the India-led proposals that are targeted at overhauling International Cricket Council's governance structure and revenue share model. In a crisp media statement on Wednesday evening, Sri Lanka Cricket said its executive committee has decided to reject any plan that could jeopardise the former world champions' rights and privileges as a Full Member of the ICC. (N Srinivasan defends India's money-minded approach in ICC revamp)
The signals were clear on Tuesday, Sri Lanka's Independence Day. A section of the Lankan media voiced the island's sentiments, even calling the fight against ICC's plans, "a war". Lankans have fought a bloody civil war that was waged by the island's Tamil population. (India, England and Australia close to becoming 'Big Three')
"We fought brutal terrorists who were internationally powerful. But we fought them and defeated them despite international pressure," an unnamed SLC official was quoted as saying in an article headlined 'SLC will fight ICC like Sri Lanka fought terrorists' by the Daily Mirror newspaper. (PCB's income could double if they accept ICC revamp)
The official warned that unless they take a stand now, cricket will be destroyed if power is bestowed on a few countries. "They might even change the rules of the game to fit them. We have past examples. The bouncer rule was brought in by the then powerful England and Australia and wiped of West Indies cricket. In recent times, we know how India's resistance has stopped DRS becoming law. There is a great danger lurking behind these proposals," the top Lankan official added. (Pakistan Cricket Board told to oppose 'Big Three' proposal)
On Wednesday, the SLC statement said: "Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to announce that the executive committee met with all the stake holders, past captains, past presidents and secretaries of SLC and the sports ministry representative to discuss the ICC Revised Working Group Proposals at the Auditorium of the Ministry of Sports. The Revised Proposals put forward by the ICC, the views of the legal advisory committee and the financial evaluations were taken into consideration and discussed in detail. The views of the executive committee were expressed based on the above. It was explained at this meeting that the SLC executive committee was firmly of the view that all endeavours should be made to safeguard the current rights and privileges of Sri Lanka as a Full Member of the ICC. All present at this meeting were in unanimous agreement with the decision taken by the executive committee to oppose the Revised Proposals." (India deserve lion's share in ICC revenue: Cricket Australia)
The Sri Lankan stance will be a massive setback for Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and England and Wales Cricket Board which are pushing for a new structure that will give executive control and a bigger revenue share to the troika. (CSA to not compromise on integrity over ICC revamp plans)
India, England and Australia are hoping to push their proposals through when the ICC meets in Singapore on Saturday, but need the support of at least eight out of the 10 Full members. Apart from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa are also opposing the proposals. (India-driven ICC revamp plans on tenterhooks as Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka play hardball)
On Tuesday, Cricket South Africa made itself clear in a press statement. "While we are engaged in discussions with the ICC and other Full members, including the BCCI, to find an acceptable way forward, we have not and will not consider deals that compromise our key principles and integrity. This is a difficult time for global cricket and attempts to mislead and create confusion are not welcome," said CSA president, Chris Nenzani.
"CSA vehemently denies any notion of deals being made with any other party. On the contrary we will seek to uphold good governance and our professional approach to find solutions to the current proposals being considered by all the Member Boards.
"We have carefully considered the proposals and we have declared that we will engage further with the ICC and other Members to try and reach any consensus ahead of Saturday's ICC Board meeting and that position still stands," explained Nenzani.
BCCI, in particular, wants members to accept the proposals. The super-rich Indian Board stands to gain the most from the revamp of the revenue model, with its share of revenue rocketing from USD 63 million to USD 766 million. BCCI president N. Srinivasan said in an interview, "A strong India with a vibrant commercial structure is good for world cricket."
It just remains to be seen how long Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa can keep cricket's big boys - India, Australia and England - at bay. The 'fight' is certainly going down to the wire.