London: The ICC has dismissed claims made by Dennis Lillee that the game is being driven by television money. Calling Lillee’s criticism on the upcoming Australia-Bangladesh series as a compromise on the structure and history of the game just to maximise TV revenue “unfounded”, the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said: “Dennis is winding two or three unrelated issues into one.”
“Firstly, in relation to the schedule, the ICC future tours programme is driven by the desire to have all Test playing countries play each other on a regular basis. This is to ensure that everyone has the chance to play at the highest level regularly.
“Up until recently the smaller countries were at the mercy of the bigger nations. Zimbabwe is still yet to play a Test in Australia despite being a full member for 11 years. In 1995 Sri Lanka had no home Test and had just two the following year against Zimbabwe,” Speed said reacting to Lillee’s charge.
“The ICC has already announced it will review this programme to ensure it is still operating in the best interests of world cricket,” he said. “The ICC’s mandate is to develop the sport as a global game and to protect the spirit of cricket. The steps taken in ensuring that all teams are able to play each other and the assistance given to Bangladesh both reflect this role.”
Speed also said the ICC is not taking all the money generated from tours. “In relation to the money apart from the ICC Cricket World Cup and other ICC tournaments, any television money from these series is paid directly to the home board, not the ICC. ”
On Lillee’s criticism that the matches against Bangladesh makes a mockery of records, Speed conceded that the performance of ICC’s latest Test playing country has been “disappointing”.
“The performance of Bangladesh since they became a Test-playing country, I think everyone recognises that this has been disappointing. Only last week, the ICC president, Ehsan Mani, highlighted a number of steps that are being taken to assist Bangladesh lift its performance,” he said.
“This includes the prospect of reducing the amount of Tests that it plays away from home. I think Steve Waugh summed this up quite well when he said recently ‘you’ve got to give them opportunities and chances’.”
Bangladesh, who have lost 18 of their 19 Tests so far, arrived in Australia on Monday to meet the world champions for the first time in Test cricket. The first Test is in Darwin from July 18 to 22 and the second Test starts in Cairns on July 25. (PTI)