"In cricket, it is foolish to even think of fighting India'

World Cup winning former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga has criticised the new draft that brings in drastic changes to the International Cricket Council giving the cricket boards of India, England and Australia overwhelming power and revenue. Ranatunga blamed the boards of India, England and Australia for putting pressure on the rest of the boards to pass the recommendations. 

An unconvinced Ranatunga of ICC’s revamp, remarked: “The draft that was given to the cricket boards had several negative points and although people are suggesting that several changes have been made to the new draft that was put across in Singapore, it’s not available for the public to see how good or bad the new draft is.” 

"I am not against change. But let those who are calling the shots look at other sports bodies and recommend changes. The US is not telling the International Olympic Committee members that we bring the largest revenue and hence we need more control of the IOC. The IOC has a history of over 110 years and only once has an American been the president of the IOC,” quipped former captain of the island nation. 

The member of Sri Lankan Parliament says the proposed system encouraged bilateral series against commercially strong cricket playing nations rather than countries that play good cricket. He also feared that countries like Sri Lanka will play fewer Tests as the Future Tour Programme (FTP) is not sanctioned by the ICC. 

"From 1987 to 1990 Sri Lanka had played just seven Test matches. After that, ICC’s Future Tour Programme ensured that there were equal opportunities for all countries. The proposed system will take smaller nations like Sri Lanka to the situation in 1980s."

Another former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya, who is the current chairman of selectors and sits on the SLC executive committee strikes a different note. “There’s no reason why we should oppose India. India has been extremely good to Sri Lankan cricket and helpful towards the board. Whenever we were faced with a crisis they were good enough to help us and the Indian team has toured Lanka in the last 10 years more than they have been to any other country. As you know tours by India bring us revenue and we should never antagonise India.” 

During the ICC meeting, while eight boards supported the revamp, cricket boards of Sri Lanka and Pakistan abstained from voting after South Africa supported the revamp in the last minute. “Had we supported India from the outset, we could have gained several benefits, but right now we have to do lot of damage control,” Jayasuriya said. 

”India has promised Bangladesh several tours in the next few years while South Africa may be hosting several IPL matches this season. Instead of not supporting India, we could have gone for an amicable solution,” averred the dashing former opener.

 “Some of the things that were in the initial draft report have been changed. By the time the third ICC meeting came up in Singapore, the draft had undergone several changes. Those changes came as a result of our opposition. But we could have fared better if we had toed the line with India. In cricket, it is foolish to even think of fighting India. You may not like it, but that’s the reality. We have to be realistic rather than being idealistic,” Jayasuriya added. Veteran cricket administrator Neil Perera, who held various positions at SLC before and after the country gained Test status was critical of the revamp which he called ‘take over’ of cricket by the three boards.

“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, I attended the ICC meetings and we looked up to India in our fight to get rid of the veto power that Australia and England enjoyed. It is now disappointing to see India joining ranks with England and Australia which effectively is a takeover of international cricket. This is very disappointing,” Perera added. 

(The writer is a cricket analyst based in Colombo)

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