SYDNEY - Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Gray, both former senior administrators with Cricket Australia and the ICC, have broken away from their national board's position by undersigning a formal letter to the ICC and member nations requesting that the "big three" proposal be immediately withdrawn.
The letter, composed by the former ICC president Ehsan Mani in the wake of his damning 13-page assessment of the draft finance and governance proposal that is due to be voted on by the ICC's executive board this week, is also undersigned by the former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd and former PCB presidents Shahrayar Khan and Lt Gen. (retd) Tauqir Zia and former BCB president Saber Hossain Chowdhury.
Ali Bacher, the former managing director of the first South African board after reunification, also came out in support of the argument being made by Mani. In a letter to Alan Isaac, the current president of the ICC, Bacher reminded him of the "animosity" that existed particularly in the Asian subcontinent and the Caribbean, when England and Australia had the veto in the ICC. He said that the working group position paper, if accepted, would "lead to division and strife in world cricket as never seen before." *
But it is the presence of Speed and Gray on the letter that is most significant, for each have remained linked to the workings and decisions of CA in the years since they left formal administrative posts. Speed still retains a close working relationship with the CA chief executive James Sutherland under the banner of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS). He was also a member of the Argus review panel that charted a new path for the Australian team in 2011.
All signatories agreed that the ICC needed to re-examine the conclusions of the 2012 Woolf Report into ICC governance, which recommended, among other things, an improvement in governance standards, the appointment of independent board directors and greater transparency. The text of the letter reads:
"We are writing to ask you, the custodians of world cricket: 1. That the Paper by the ICC F&CA Committee should be withdrawn. 2. That the ICC directors and management, its members and other stakeholders are, as a matter of urgency, invited to review and comment on the Governance Report by Lord Woolf and PWC, published in 2012, with a view to implementing its recommendations and improving ICC's Governance structure, in keeping with contemporary best practice."
Following a long period in senior roles with CA when it was known as the Australian Cricket Board, Gray served as president of the ICC from 2000 to 2003, when he was succeeded by Mani. Speed was the chief executive of the ACB/CA from 1997 until 2001, then served the same role with the ICC from 2001 to 2008. He told ESPNcricinfo that he trusted the motives of the CA chairman Wally Edwards, but held grave doubts about the redistribution model the proposal outlined.
"I have no doubt that Wally Edwards has given the matter very close consideration and believes that this is the best outcome for world cricket," Speed said. "Wally has been in the thick of the debate and I respect his opinion and have no doubt that he is acting in the best interests of the game and Australian cricket.
"I cannot see any reason whatsoever why India should receive extra funding from ICC Events at the expense of struggling countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Uganda, Kenya and the other 100 Associate and Affiliate members where every dollar counts. India generates hundreds of millions from domestic and international media and sponsorship rights from matches played against the other Full Member countries.
"India already benefits more than any other country from the popularity of the game in India and India's huge population. It receives this revenue as a result of playing against the other countries. The rationale for ICC Events is to raise funds to support the game across the world. All of the other members need additional funding. Previous Presidents of BCCI were strong supporters of the other countries. Jagmohan Dalmiya as BCCI and ICC President was a pioneer in spreading cricket's revenues around the cricket world. BCCI needs to reconsider its position."
The letter was accompanied by Mani's analysis of the proposal, which raised many and varied concerns about the conflicted interests of its authors - the BCCI, CA, and the ECB - and the revenue modelling they are suggesting. Among his reservations was the fact that under the new plan, the game's developing nations stood to lose an enormous percentage of projected revenue, relative to their current allocation.
Mani estimated that under the proposal, Associate and Affiliate Members would lose more than US $312 million in projected revenue, an amount that would instead be redistributed largely to the boards of India, Australia and England. "The biggest gainers are BCCI, ECB and CA. In addition, ICC events for the period 2015-2023 will be held only in India, England and Australia. These Boards will receive hosting fees for the events in addition to the ICC Distributions they propose," Mani wrote. "A point that also needs to be addressed is; why does BCCI need more money at the expense of other countries? The domestic and international media fees that BCCI receives from playing with other members are massive and underpin BCCI's financial position. It is the richest cricket board in the world.
"If cricket is to grow and develop around the world more investment is required in the Associate & Affiliate countries, not less. The Associate & Affiliate countries represent some of the biggest economies in the world. If cricket could be established properly in the United States of America and China and become an Olympic sport, the ICC could double its revenues in real terms over the next 10-15 years. This requires vision and a less parochial approach."