Atherton condemns Big Three plan

Atherton condemns Big Three plan

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Michael Atherton observing England training, Abu Dhabi, January, 24, 2012

Michael Atherton, the former England captain, has condemned proposals to put power to run international cricket in the hands of India, England and Australia as the end of an idealistic notion that the game can be run for the benefit of all.

Atherton writes in the Times that the plan represents: “The end of the notion that a fair and principled and just body can govern cricket in the interests of all.

“It is an ideal, of course, that has never been grounded in any kind of reality under the guise of the ICC, but if you cannot be idealistic about sport, what can you be idealistic about?”

Atherton gives some credence, if reluctantly, to the view that England and Australia feel they have no choice but to grant India power in a way that will encourage them to run the world game responsibly – and even suggests India has now been affected with the arrogance of old colonialism.

“The tone of the proposal is so arrogant and high-handed as to recall an earlier age when the organisation began as the Imperial Cricket Conference,” he writes.

Atherton is scathing about governance in world cricket. “No one doubts that the status quo, as far as the ICC is concerned, is unacceptable: two full-member countries are thought to be corrupt; four are essentially broke; most rely on India’s largesse to keep going, while the BCCI is disgruntled that the distribution of revenues does not reflect its provenance.

“Politics, race and personalities interfere with decision-making at every turn. Incompetence is a given; at a recent ICC meeting, I was told of one director who took to snoring through an anti-corruption presentation.”

Atherton said that the recommendations of the Woolf report to place power in the hands of an independent executive – a solution championed by the former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, who was soon removed from office – would have been the most idealistic solution.

“The best that can be said for this deal, indeed the only thing that can be said for this deal, is that India become a fully engaged and interested party to world cricket. Inside the tent and happy for the moment, rather than prowling outside and angry.”