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2 decades on, India for veto!

- Much is going on behind the scenes

Calcutta: The International Cricket Council (ICC) isn’t commenting, but quite a few associated with the game are aghast at the impending return of the undemocratic and loathed veto in the governing body.

Not by that name, though.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has, of course, come out very strongly and termed the ongoing process in the ICC as “unconstitutional” and “fundamentally flawed.”

Such open condemnation is rare in what essentially remains a fairly closed set-up.

It’s interesting that Haroon Lorgat, CSA’s chief executive, held the same position in the ICC and, so, knows plenty better than most around.

India, which forced an end to England and Australia’s veto two decades ago, stands to gain by its reintroduction.

Many would find that rather ironical.

According to a proposal by the “working group” of the ICC’s finance and commercial affairs committee, England and Australia will be India’s partners in the highly privileged three-nation club.

All three beneficiaries were represented on the working group! No wonder CSA has exploded.

Till the veto was done away with, thanks largely to the combative duo of Jagmohan Dalmiya and Inderjit Singh Bindra, with help from Pakistan’s Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, England and Australia enjoyed that right by virtue of being “Foundation Members.”

South Africa, too, co-founded the ICC (in 1909, then known as the Imperial Cricket Conference), but was out of the governing body for two decades owing to its policy of apartheid.

It’s perfectly fine for India to seek a bigger chunk of the revenue pie, but bringing the veto back can hardly be labelled progressive. Even if it won’t be termed exactly that.

“The ICC is looking to move backwards at a time when the world is crying out for more democracy. It’s strange,” somebody who has served on the ICC and is well respected, told The Telegraph on Tuesday evening.

It’s confirmed that the working group’s proposals were informally placed before the 10 Test-playing nations in Dubai, where the ICC is currently headquartered, on January 9.

Suffice to say that champagne wasn’t uncorked across the room where the 10 met.

“The message from India, in particular, was: ‘Fall in line, or else face financial ruin’... Team India is a massive draw everywhere and most of the sponsors have a strong connect with India... Any ‘threat’ from India can’t be taken lightly,” another top source pointed out.

That Boards in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe aren’t in shape financially (and some only marginally better off) makes them extremely vulnerable.

Like it or not, it’s all about dollars.

Pakistan is opposed to the proposals, but there has just been another change of guard in its Board. Moreover, Pakistan stands marginalised and is constantly looking to the ICC to resume international cricket on its soil.

There have been no visits after the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team’s bus, off the Gaddafi in Lahore.

And, surely, one can’t expect Bangladesh to go against the wishes of Big Brother India.

It’s significant that the upcoming Asia Cup hasn’t been moved out of Bangladesh by the organisers, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). The ACC is headed by India’s Narayanswamy Srinivasan, one of the architects of the drive to reintroduce the veto.

The working group’s proposals are to be placed before the full committee and, then, forwarded to the ICC’s executive board.

Officially, much remains to be done. Unofficially, a lot of ground has already been covered by India, England and Australia.

For the proposals to be pushed through, India, England and Australia need the support of four other Test-playing nations. Given the goings-on, that doesn’t seem a tall order.

New Zealand, in any case, is on board.

The ICC’s finance and commercial affairs committee and the executive board meet in Dubai from January 27-29.

Despite the scandal involving son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan remains on a strong wicket. As ambitious is England’s Giles Clarke. Close ally is Australia’s Wally Edwards.