DUBAI - With the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) accepting revised proposals for the restructure of the ICC after securing the assurance that their Test status will not be revoked, the Big Three are one vote away from the number required to push through constitutional amendments in order that the revamp be completed in full.
"BCB has stood firm on [not agreeing] to the two-tier format...but they have agreed upon the position paper," a BCB official confirmed today, referring to the two-tier format that would automatically put the No. 9 and 10 teams in the ICC rankings outside the existing group of eight Test playing nations. The lack of clarity as to whether the BCB had signed off on the guiding principles or on the resolutions pertaining to the amendments, with the official saying the board had not put pen to paper, took the Big Three a step closer to gaining greater control of the ICC's functioning and its revenues.
Of the four boards that had opposed the content and speed with which the document was being pushed through, BCB's concerns about their Test status appear to have been addressed. It now leaves the cricket boards of Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka as the only three who have made it clear that their "support" for the ICC's key principles as announced on Tuesday still remained subject to approval by their home boards.
There appears to be confidence in the Big Three camp that they will be able to get the support of one of the three by the end of the week and thus have a total of eight on their side, which makes up the three-fourths majority needed to pass constitutional amendments in the ICC. Rather than the two-thirds majority required for more routine decisions regarding ICC's functioning, constitutional amendments require three-fourths majority, i.e. eight out of ten members in agreement so that "special resolutions" be passed. There are several components of the ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs committee working group's paper that require constitutional amendments - like the creation of a new internal Executive committee (ExCo), changes in the ICC Board and a new ICC commercial entity to be called IBC.
A Big Three insider told ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday night: "The next round of negotiations, read bargaining, begins now." On Wednesday, another representative said the message from the group was that, "There are no more negotiations left except in terms of the FTP and minor issues regarding promotion and relegations."
At the end of the ICC Executive Board meeting which ICC president Alan Isaac called, "one of the most productive and participatory meetings of all that I have been in," he said that there were several stages left for the completion of the revamp, with key principles agreed to. "The detail around those principles needs to be worked out and obviously be further approved by the board at further meetings. We've agreed principles at the moment, we haven't adopted resolutions or recommendations from the draft report subsequently negotiated. We've just agreed to a set of principles."
End of World Test Championship: Prior to the meeting, Cricket South Africa had opposed leaked draft proposals designed to give the sport's most financially powerful 'Big Three' nations of India, England and Australia a greater say in the running of the world game. And after Tuesday's talks concluded, CSA president Chris Nenzani said their backing in Dubai would need endorsement from his own board. "Our position will be subject to full consideration by our Board and other stakeholders."
But the section of the leaked plan that arguably provoked the greatest criticism, namely the 'Big Three' being spared relegation in any new two-division Test set-up because of their commercial importance, was rejected by the ICC. It even indicated the likes of Ireland might join the existing 10 Test nations but without any details.
"There will be an opportunity for all Members to play all formats of cricket on merit, with participation based on meritocracy; no immunity to any country, and no change to membership status," the ICC said. The statement was clear though in signalling the end of the proposed World Test Championship. Its delayed launch was supposed to happen in England in 2017. It has been replaced by the reprieved one-day Champions Trophy, a more commercial and broadcast-friendly proposition. The 'mini World Cup' was spared after a successful 'final' edition in England last year. Plans to bolster the position of the 'Big Three' within ICC include the formation of a new five-man executive committee, with three seats reserved for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA).
End of Tours Programme: The ICC board agreed to discontinue the centralised Future Tours Programme, designed to ensure the 10 leading countries hosted and toured one another during an eight-year span. Instead there will be a return to bilateral agreements between nations. These will run from 2015-2023 in common with the ICC's next commercial rights cycle.
And in a change to the leaked plan, South Africa were included as recipients in a 'Test Cricket fund' which will now be distributed by the 'Big Three' to all the other seven leading nations, where the five-day game often struggles for support.
Meanwhile the often cash-strapped West Indies Cricket Board welcomed the revamp. A WICB statement forecast it would receive a 100 percent revenue increase on the previous eight-year cycle (2006-2014).
Imran says proposal to divide cricket: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan voiced his opposition to new ICC proposals, saying it will divide the cricketing world. In a message on his twitter account, Khan said: "The idea of a "Big 3" will divide cricket world. I recall rep Pak at ICC in '93 & cannot forget the imperial attitude of England & Australia." "Now India will join Eng & Aus because of its financial clout but back in '93 India was with us. I totally disagree with this new proposal.”