Shashank Manohar: ‘Major countries should not bully the ICC’

Shashank Manohar reveals a change in the apex cricketing body’s governance philosophy.

Shashank Manohar.   -  Vivek Bendre

In less than 24 hours of his return from a four-day visit to the International Cricket Council (ICC) headquarters in Dubai, the BCCI president and ICC chairman Shashank Manohar fielded questions from The Hindu on matters related to the ICC and BCCI.

Known for his remarkable candour, the observations of the 58-year-old lawyer-cricket-administrator on the prevailing governance policy that mandates executive powers to the BCCI, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) and sharing of revenue should be music to the ears of the less fortunate full-member countries of the ICC, associates and affiliates as well and conversely stun the members of the BCCI who are daydreaming with the possibility of the BCCI receiving in excess of Rs. 4,000 crore in the 2016-2023 cycle.

In the course of an interview at his ‘Arunodhay’ office, Manohar punches holes in the new ICC governance policy and revenue sharing formula. The first part of an extensive interview

You spent four days in Dubai to know about ICC matters. What was your experience?

I found a lot of problems in ICC also. I have to deal with them. I interacted with the management and staff. Giles Clarke (ECB representative in ICC and chairman of the ICC finance and commercial affairs committee) was also there. I discussed certain issues with him also. He agreed with me on all the points and we will work towards achieving that.

Are you comfortable with the present governance system wherein the cricket boards of India, Australia and England have the executive powers?

I don’t agree with the three major countries bullying the ICC. That’s my personal view, because as I have always said, an institution is bigger than individuals. You cannot guarantee which individual will occupy the top position in either of these countries. And, the ICC constitution, as it stands today, says that in all the major committees of the ICC, these three countries will be automatically there. So all the financial and commercial aspects and the executive committee will be controlled by the representatives of these three countries which according to me is wrong. You should have the best man, whether he comes from Zimbabwe, or West Indies, or even from an associate or affiliate to work on a committee, who will promote the interests of the ICC.

So would you recommend a repeal of last year’s amendments that changed the governance structure?

I don’t agree with that in principle. I am talking about myself. I don’t know what will happen in the future.

What about the revenue-sharing formula that gives 22 per cent to the BCCI straightaway?

I don’t agree with the revenue-sharing formula, because it’s nice to say that India (BCCI) will get 22 per cent of the total revenue of the ICC, but you cannot make the poor poorer and the rich richer, only because you have the clout. The ICC runs cricket throughout the world. Secondly there is another angle to it which nobody has thought of. India generates money because the other countries come and play in India. If you do not have a fierce competition, the broadcasters are not going to pay you and the sponsors are not going to sponsor your events. So whatever you generate through bilateral series is because there are good teams playing against you. If all teams are of the standards of the low placed ninth and tenth team and India is a good side, who is going to pay you; what interest would be left with the spectators to watch a game, if it’s a one-sided game always. So if you reduce their corpus, their development is going to be hampered and ICC has to think from that point of view. According to me there is a conflict now at the ICC level also which I have to sort out.

Under the present ICC constitution, the chairmanship is offered to the representative of the BCCI. Under the ICC constitution, after the annual conference, there is going to be an election and the person who is elected the chairman will continue only till the time he continues to be the representative of his country.

So tomorrow here could be a scenario, wherein ‘A’ person is elected the chairman and after 10 days he is removed by his board, ‘B’ would take over as the chairman, and after four months that person is removed, ‘C’ would take over as chairman. When people vote, they vote for an individual; they don’t vote for a member board. It’s the competence of a person to lead the ICC is important, and keeping that in mind, people vote for him. According to me that clause is also a bad clause.

Secondly when I am at the ICC as a BCCI representative, it’s my paramount duty to protect the interests of the BCCI; then how can I protect the interests of the ICC, sitting as its chairman.

If there is a conflict between the interest of the BCCI and the ICC, I will have to protect the interest of the BCCI. Then I am failing in my duty, sitting there as chairman of the ICC and not protecting its interests.

So according to me there are many flaws in the ICC constitution, which was amended, because earlier the president’s post was occupied by a person who had nothing to do with any board. The first requirement was he had to resign from his home board from all positions; with the result that he was not attending the ICC meetings as a representative of a member board. David Morgan, Pawar, Alan Issac, they resigned from their offices and sitting as ICC presidents. This is a unique situation which has been created because of the amendment which creates, according to me, a direct conflict.

Are you going to talk to the other boards and sort out this aspect?

I have spoken about these issues to Giles Clarke (ECB) and he agreed with me. There are different people coming into the ICC.

Since you said the ICC should not be bullied, will it get more independence?

I don’t know because, what has happened is, in the distribution model and everything, ACC has become redundant in the present scenario. I have only six or seven months.

Do you want the ACC to stay?

Yes. The ACC was looking after the development in Asia. When the payments are made directly to different boards, ACC has become powerless.

You rejected a proposal to become ICC president in 2011; why?

I did not aspire to become ICC president. It’s now changed to ICC chairman, with the powers of the president transferred to the chairman. The president is only a ceremonial post. I never aspired to become the chairman, too. Now it’s fait accompli that I am.

(To be continued)