Home > Cricket > Columns > Ashish Magotra
Is the ICC toothless?
February 03, 2005
International Cricket Council General Manager (cricket) Dave Richardson was in Mumbai last week for the official launch of the LG-ICC rankings for teams and players.
The former South Africa wicket-keeper, who explained the ranking system to the media, stressed upon the fact that the ICC is looking 'to take charge in a world of cricket, which already has many ranking systems.'
He also mentioned that the official rankings are just the beginning, and slowly the ICC would look towards extending its sphere of influence.
One could not help but wonder how taking charge applies to such trivial matters like a ranking system. At the end of the day, everyone knows that Australia is the number one team in the world, and there are only nine Test playing nations worth the mention and among them, at any given point, there are only two or three teams that challenge Australia. So, does it need a genius to figure out who is number one?
After the presentation was over, I walked over to Richardson and asked him if the ICC is looking to take charge then why is it restricting itself to such petty matters like rankings.
Why is the ICC not trying to resolve bigger issues like scheduling of tours? For instance, with Pakistan's tour of India less than a month away, we still don't know the venues that will stage the three Tests and five One-Day International matches.
There was a brief pause before Richardson answered the question.
"The ICCs Test Championship is in place and, on the face of it, the four-year cycle of Test tours is in place as well. But we like to give the Boards some leeway in deciding the exact time in the calendar year when they would like their sides to meet."
I wondered whether "some leeway" amounts to letting the Boards have complete say in drawing up an itinerary.
With the BCCI now making delays an integral part of the scheduling of any tour, there has to be something the game's governing body can do.
Before the Australians toured India, along with the muddle of venues there was also the telecast rights issue. From the players' perspective, it make more sense if they are aware of the actual dates and venues at which they will be playing at, as pitches differ and so does the required preparation.
But, according to Richardson, the ICC can do little but plead.
"We may be the sport's governing body but we can't force the BCCI to do the scheduling by a particular time. As per our rules, they are supposed to give us the itinerary a year in advance. But it virtually never happens that way with any of the member boards," said Richardson.
Perhaps, the latest nail in the coffin was a statement a BCCI official made to a newspaper. Asked why the itinerary for the Pakistan team's tour is taking so long to be drawn up, he replied: 'Deadlines don't worry us. As long as we make good money everything will be fine.'
That statement certainly makes one seethe within. It makes one wonder whether cricket these days is only about money. There are many who watch the game because of the singular pleasure they derive from it.
It also made one wonder if the ICC has no control over the house it governs.
Can't the ICC do anything about it?
"Well, we can tell them to try and do it on time but other than that we cannot do much more," said Richardson.
So is the ICC a toothless body?
"Yes," was the prompt reply from Richardson. It looked as if he was expecting the question.
It begs the question: Does cricket need a body like the ICC, which is all bark and little bite? Shouldn't the governing body at least have the power to bring its members to book? Time the ICC demands greater accountability from its money-generating member Boards.
Otherwise, it will only be left with schoolteacher roles, like drawing up rankings and handing out punishments.