The International Cricket Council (ICC) has appointed Narayanaswami Srinivasan as its new chairman, in one of its most divisive decisions yet, according to BBC Sport.
It also marks a remarkable turn in fortunes for Srinivasan, just three months after he was suspended from his post as chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He faces corruption charges relating to illegal betting in the 2013 season of the Indian Premier League.
However, since it was the Indian Supreme Court that insisted the 69-year-old step down from the BCCI, the body itself has congratulated him on his new position, after he was voted in unanimously. Regardless of the ongoing investigations into his activities, he is undoubtedly a hugely influential figure, particularly in India, where he owns Chennai Super Kings.
His son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, was arrested last year after accusations of suspect betting on IPL matches. Nonetheless, the ICC appear convinced by Srinivasan’s pleas that there has been “no wrongdoing on (his) part”.
After initially being nominated in February, his unveiling follows an ICC annual conference, and appears to have found very little support. That the ICC is willing to take a chance on a man allegedly connected with spot-fixing is difficult to stomach, and has led to new fears of an agenda by the game’s elites. Mustafa Kamal of Bangladesh has also been elected ICC president.
The board’s latest shake-up has important consequences for the structures of international cricket. New plans, which were confirmed with Srinivasan’s appointment, aim to give power to the ‘Big Three’ of England, India, and Australia.
Wally Edwards of Cricket Australia will lead a new executive committee, while Giles Clarke of the England and Wales Cricket Board has been placed in charge of the financial and commercial affairs committee.
Pakistan and South Africa’s cricket boards have been particularly angered by the latest changes to the game’s governing body, as they are set to become increasingly marginalised. Although the ICC’s profits are to be reorganised in an attempt to make their distribution fairer, the Big Three will still get the biggest proportions of funds.
South Africa are perhaps the biggest losers: the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed it was awarded the fourth largest share of revenue, in spite of the numerous scandals that have rocked it in the last decade. At present, Pakistan are not even able to host matches because of terrorist threats within the country.
Unsurprisingly, the cricket boards of the leading three powers have been behind the reforms, in what can only be seen as a thinly-veiled attempt at establishing an even greater monopoly.
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