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Now, an Afro-Asian Council
- Asian XI vs African XI matches likely to raise funds for less developed nations

Calcutta: Fourteen years after South Africa’s readmission to the International Cricket Council (ICC), the country’s nominee — Percy Sonn — will head the world body.

Sonn, a former United Cricket Board of South Africa chief, is going to be named vice-president on Thursday and will succeed Ehsan Mani next June.

In fact, Sonn is going to occupy the No.1 seat at a time when relations between Africa and Asia will be on an upswing.

After all, in one of his first acts as head of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), Jagmohan Dalmiya proposed the setting up of an Afro-Asian Council in partnership with the African Cricket Association (ACA).

Dalmiya, the Board of Control for Cricket in India supremo, took charge late on Tuesday. Incidentally, Zimbabwe Cricket Union chairman Peter Chingoka is the ACA boss.

“The modalities are going to be worked out, but the ACA is game… Personally, I think exciting times are ahead for Asian and African cricket,” Dalmiya told The Telegraph on Wednesday morning, when contacted in London.

More important, within the ICC, the bargaining power of both continents will increase appreciably. As it is, Asia and Africa provide six of the ten full (Test) members: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

While Dalmiya couldn’t speak at length as he was rushing for the ICC Executive Board meeting, ACC chief executive Ashraful Haq informed that a “memorandum of understanding” is going to be signed between the Asian body and the ACA.

Once the signing is over, each continent may nominate a couple of officials to serve on a course-charting joint committee.

The ACC was founded two decades ago, but the African body (registered in Johannesburg) has been in existence for just a few years.

Talking exclusively, also from London, Haq said: “There will be an exchange at different levels, the sharing of academies and such like… Moreover, to raise funds for the less developed cricket nations, we could have a series of Asian XI versus African XI limited-overs games.”

It’s possible, of course, that the ICC is going to be approached for bestowing official status — that will specially come in handy for marketing the series.

Meanwhile, the ACC’s commercial arm (Asian Cricket Foundation) has been disbanded. The Foundation was chaired by Dalmiya and, for the next two years, the parent body itself is going to be headed by the marketing wizard. So…

Footnote: A move to shift the ICC out of Lord’s and London has, for now, been put on hold. Till the other day, it was more or less confirmed that the world body will either be headquartered in Dubai or Kuala Lumpur. The ACC, by the way, functions out of Kuala Lumpur.

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