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The Rediff Interview/Malcolm Speed
'Cricket is at a stage all sports go through'
September 23, 2003
As chief executive officer of cricket's governing body, Malcolm Speed believes transparency is the key to effective functioning for any organisation.
The 55 year-old former chief executive of the Australian Cricket Board (since renamed Cricket Australia), whose tenure with the International Cricket Council has been extended till July 2005, expounds his vision for the game in an exclusive interview with Faisal Shariff:
Contracts and ambush marketing precede cricketing issues these days...
Cricket is at a stage all sports go through. It is a tribute to three things: more money, player managers taking a more aggressive approach for players, and player associations. All are positives and the game can only learn from them.
You were president of the Australian Basketball Association. What are the similarities in governing the two sports?
Not many. There wasn't as much money in Australian basketball as there is in Australian cricket or in world cricket. Look around the world one way or the other and you will see that professionalism is striking football, rugby, American sports. International basketball, cycling, motorsports have these issues. Cricket will have to work its way around these issues.
The West Indies has been very critical of the future tours programme. They believe the ICC business model is detrimental for the game. The West Indies Cricket Board does not even get gate money when touring Australia, England, or India...
They get gate money; what they don't get is guarantee money. The West Indies has argued this at the ICC [governing] board for the past four years. They have argued it badly and all other countries have rejected it. It is time the West Indies stopped arguing and got on with it.
The ICC has proposed to recognise player associations. Has it woken up to the winds of change?
The ICC management has been working with player associations for the last three years. I recommended that player associations be recognised way back in 2001, but it has taken a long time in getting member countries to agree to it. It needs approval from the ICC board. We are making progress and things are looking positive.
Is there a role for player associations, like FICA [Federation of International Cricketers' Associations], in world cricket?
There is a role for cricket boards to attend ICC meetings and constitute decision-making bodies. Historically, players have not been satisfied with the level of consultation with boards and want third parties to represent them. In an ideal world, the third party would not be required, but that's not the reality at the moment.
The ICC rankings have come in for a lot of criticism. Do you think there is an argument to simplify the ranking systems and make them more interesting?
The rankings are pretty simple if anyone wishes to follow them. They are simpler than rankings in other sports. It is nonsense to say there should be simple rankings or that the ICC rankings are unduly complicated. The Test and ODI rankings are credible ranking systems and will stand the test of time.
Is it time to rephrase the law that explains illegal deliveries?
You haven't done your homework. It has been redrafted and rephrased two years ago when the MCC [Marylebone Cricket Club] recast the laws and changed the laws on illegal deliveries. The ICC changed the process from three-stage to two-stage, besides also reducing the time-frame. I am comfortable the way it is at the moment. Some experts will want to express their professional viewpoints. It is not to say whether they are right or wrong. There is no need to change systems that are in place at the moment.
The mini-World Cup or the Champions Trophy was created to promote cricket in non-Test-playing nations. But the last edition was played in Sri Lanka, the next two are due in England and India. Why the change?
We make more money playing in full-member countries than we would in associate member countries. We make more money in Sri Lanka, India and England. The associate members, like Kenya, Holland, Malaysia, don't provide the platform required to make the kind of money we want to make. We are in big cricket markets. Most of the money goes into the development of the game in these countries. We make more money in these countries, which goes to associate countries.
Former ICC president Malcolm Gray had said that there is too much money in cricket. He said the sport would not be able to handle it. Your comment.
I don't agree with that. There will continue to be more money in the sport. We [the ICC] can handle it. We should be able to deal with financial issues sensibly. I don't agree there is too much money. Any sport that turns its back on commercialising the game will wither and die. Cricket is criticised because it has become commercial. I don't agree with that for one moment; I dispute it. We have struck a fine balance between the values of the game and commercialising it perfectly.
The ICC once said that it is not here to make friends, but to run the game. The BCCI president welcomed Ehsaan Mani as the new ICC president and said the contracts issue would be solved. Isn't this a case of personal equations coming into play?
Mr [Jagmohan] Dalmiya is entitled to his view. There is nothing I can do to change that. I don't think Mani will agree with Dalmiya's statement on that. Mani has said on several occasions that the ICC would deal with each country without fear or favour, exercising its judgement.
What are your achievements as CEO?
Major achievement has been changing the structure of the ICC management; employing a number of top-ranked professional sports administrators; raising the level of awareness of the ICC, increasing revenue levels, creating new events; creating Test and ODI rankings. There are several new initiatives in the pipeline, which will change the face of the ICC over the next two or three years.
Your immediate goals?
Solve the contractual issues. Continue to change the way the ICC operates. We need to move it forward; endeavour to make it the best-administered and most prominent organisation in the world.