FICA: 'A huge positive for players'

Tony Irish, executive chairman of Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), is delighted with the recent Supreme Court judgement advising the BCCI to not only form a players’ association but also include a men’s and a women’s cricket representative each in its governing body.

Tony Irish welcomed the SC's judgement on formation of a player's' body in India.   -  Getty Images

One of the major constants during the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s 88-year journey has been its resistance to letting cricketers present a united front.

Like a bulk of prevalent traditions in Indian cricket administration, this trend will also be a thing of the past soon. During the landmark order passed by the Supreme Court on Monday, the BCCI has been instructed to not only form a players’ association but also include a men’s and a women’s cricket representative each in its governing body.

No wonder then that Tony Irish, executive chairman of Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), is delighted. “The formation of an independent players’ association will be a positive step not only for Indian players but also for Indian cricket. I think that players’ associations, and the work they do, are often misunderstood by many administrators in India. It is not only about negotiations and remuneration for players. Much of what an established players’ association does relates to education, welfare and personal development of players,” Irish told Sportstar from Johannesburg.

During the early 2000s, former India opener Arun Lal had founded the Indian Professional Cricketers’ Association. However, with the BCCI not acknowledging it, the association fizzled out once the BCCI started offering annual retainers to top cricketers.

Despite the delay, Irish was happy that the players’ association will be formed at a time when cricket is in the midst of a transition period. “I think it (players’ association) is more important than ever. The player landscape for all players around the world has changed significantly in the last few years. Bilateral international cricket is in trouble and requires change,” said Irish, who is also the chief executive of South African Cricketers’ Association.

“It is becoming increasingly unattractive, in comparison to Twenty20 leagues, not only to fans and broadcasters but also to players. There needs to be a global effort to turn this around and the Indian players collectively should be part of this change. It is inconceivable to me that such an important stakeholder group in the game, namely the Indian players, doesn’t yet have its own independent positive voice.

“Where a players’ association is well-established in a country you will also often find that there is a highly co-operative relationship between it and the governing body. It helps the governing body to deal with the players under one umbrella.”

The Indian players’ body, to be called Cricket Players’ Association as suggested by the Lodha committee, is likely to be become the ninth affiliated body to FICA once it starts running independently. Irish hoped India’s neighbours will take a cue.

“It would be a major positive for the player movement globally but we would also like to have the Pakistan players as part of it too. India and Pakistan are the only major cricketing countries who do not have players’ associations,” Irish said.