By creating the new category of Associate membership in 1965, the International Cricket Conference had taken a crucial and far-reaching step, but it is the way in which the Full members safeguarded their interests which is equally striking.
Associates were not given a vote until 1971, allowed one each while the Full members were given two, and there was a clause stating that they were not allowed to vote on ‘matters solely concerning those countries who played official Tests’. The two surviving Foundation members, England and Australia, naturally retained their right of veto.
Sri Lanka (the name adopted by the former Ceylon in 1972) first applied for Full membership in 1975, but the traditionalists managed to hold off this dangerous development – which would, of course, mean that England, Australia and New Zealand were outnumbered by the other Full members – until 1981. By that time, Sri Lanka had participated in two World Cups and had won the inaugural ICC Trophy tournament in 1979. The advent of the Sri Lankans was the first expansion of the Test club for 29 years.
By the time they graduated from Associate to Full member status, there were 18 other Associates, including the recently-independent Zimbabwe. (Southern) Rhodesia had played in South African domestic cricket from as early as 1904 and regularly from 1946-47, and a number of its players had appeared in Springbok sides despite the fact that the colony was not part of the Union.
They competed in the Currie Cup for the last time in 1979-80, and independence was soon followed by the emergence of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union as a separate national governing body. As Sri Lanka moved up from Associate status to become the seventh Test country (not, of course, counting the now-excluded South Africa), Zimbabwe joined the ranks of the Associates.
With their extensive first-class experience behind them, it was not surprising that the Zimbabweans quickly became a dominant force in Associates cricket, winning three successive ICC Trophy tournaments in 1982, 1986 and 1990. Those three victories made a powerful case for promotion, but in other respects Zimbabwean cricket was hardly ready to progress: the sport was still overwhelmingly the preserve, at least at the higher levels, of the European community, and there was as yet no first-class structure to serve as a platform for prospective international cricketers.
The ZCU put a strong development programme in place, and the domestic Logan Cup competition was introduced from the 1993-94 season, but it was difficult to avoid the sense that Zimbabwe’s elevation was in part linked to the emergence of a powerful cabal of Full members, centred on the three Subcontinental countries but also including West Indies and South Africa, whose new multiracial governing body had been admitted, after an extremely successful lobbying campaign, in 1991.
Just what this implied became clear at a special meeting of the Council held at Lord’s on 2 February 1993. The central issue was the venue of the next World Cup, scheduled to take place in England in 1995. But India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had proposed that it should be moved to the Subcontinent, and they pursued this proposal with unprecedented determination.
It was the greatest trial of strength so far between the old, clubbish way of doing things and the style that would become increasingly dominant over the following decade. The shock which the new reality caused in cricket’s traditional corridors of power is evident in the article which Jack Bailey, ‘secretary of MCC, and therefore of ICC, from 1974 to 1987’, contributed to the 1994 edition of Wisden:
that 1993 meeting was something different. It was the outward and visible sign, if one were needed, that the playing of cricket as a game, so long the chief preoccupation of those gathered round the tables of the MCC Committee room at Lord’s, and pursued invariably with an attitude of quiet and civilised deference, had been overtaken.
The debate, it seems, was overwhelmingly about voting rules, not about the merits in cricketing terms of the rival venues. Once the number of Associates, with one vote each, had reached a number more than double that of the Full members with their two votes, the cherished position of the latter had been imperilled. So in 1989 a new constitution had been adopted under which, while a simple majority of those present and voting was sufficient for a motion to be carried, a ‘binding resolution’ additionally required a two-thirds majority of the Full members, including at least one of the Foundation members (England and Australia).
Led by Madhavrao Scindia, India and her allies, however, denied that the resolution to change the World Cup venue fell under this provision, and they invoked the authority of the Indian Lord Chief Justice – hardly, one might have thought, an impartial observer – on their side of the argument.
In the end, after 36 hours of acrimony, the representatives of the Test and County Cricket Board gave in, and the World Cup was moved to the Subcontinent. They had done so, the Board’s chief executive, AC Smith, said afterwards, ‘in the best and wider interests of the world game’. They won some concessions: the following World Cup would indeed take place in England, and the profits from the 1995-96 edition would be used to set up a new, professional ICC secretariat, to be headed by the chief executive of the Australian Cricket Board, David Richards. But it was clear that nothing would ever be the same again.
Under the chairmanship of the astute and respected Sir Clyde Walcott, the Council avoided serious public controversy during the transitional period which followed. But in July 1996 the underlying tensions once more broke into the open. Walcott’s second term as chairman would end in July 1997, and there were three candidates to succeed him: the South African Krish Mackerdhuj, the Australian Malcolm Gray, and India’s Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Mackerdhuj withdrew after an indecisive first ballot, and in the second Dalmiya led Gray by 25 votes to 13. But this was one of those decisions which required two-thirds support from the Full members, and ten of Gray’s 13 votes came from that part of the meeting, with Dalmiya having the support of only three Full members and South Africa abstaining. With 19 of the 22 Associates committed to Dalmiya and five of the eight Full members who voted supporting Gray, an impasse was reached, and no decision was possible.
Dalmiya was by any standards both an extremely skilled politician and a highly controversial figure: as treasurer and then secretary of the BCCI he had transformed the Indian Board’s finances through a series of imaginative commercial deals, and he was determined to cement his country’s position as the most powerful in world cricket.
He won the support of the vast majority of the Associates by promising them a larger share of the financial cake, but the political style which he brought from his Kolkata power base was far from welcome to the sport’s more traditional leaders. Gray, his opponent and exact contemporary, was a former chairman of the Australian Board who in many ways embodied that more traditional approach, and the contest was one which embodied the conflict between two utterly opposed cricketing cultures.
It took an elegant proposal, worked out by the chairman of New Zealand Cricket, the distingished banker Sir John Anderson, to break the deadlock. When the Council convened for a special meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 23 March 1997, it was confronted not only with a way out of the head-to-head between Dalmiya and Gray, but also with a suggested new structure.
Anderson proposed the replacement of the chairman’s post with that of president, to be filled by the Full members in rotation. And since the suggested rotation would begin with India, followed by Australia, Dalmiya was effectively conceded victory, with the sop that Gray would succeed him. Pakistan would be next in the rotation, to be followed by South Africa and England.
Nor was this all: Anderson also advocated the establishment of an Executive Board, which would effectively run the organisation. This would comprise one member from each of the Full members, together with three representatives of the Associates. It was a move which dealt effectively with the expanding number of Associate members, removing at a stroke the problem of a majority vote being overturned by the resistance of even a minority of the Test countries. Control would now be back firmly in the hands of the cricketing Great Powers, with the Associate vote reduced to a small element within the Executive Board.
Anderson’s scheme was generally accepted, and ratified by the annual conference at Lord’s in July. Dalmiya took over as president, and the first three Associate representatives were Saber Hossain Chowdhury of Bangladesh, Tunku Imran of Malaysia, and Kenya’s Jimmy Rayani. Given the history of his election, they seemed unlikely to create problems for the Dalmiya regime.
Another element in the Anderson proposals would have vital long-term implications for the Associate and Affiliate members (a third category of membership, established in 1984). Three new committees were set up under the Executive Board, and one of them, initially under the chairmanship of Ali Bacher, was charged with responsibility for Development; the others were a Cricket Committee, chaired by retiring ICC chairman Sir Clyde Walcott, and Finance and Marketing, with Ehsan Mani as chairman.
Almost immediately, a professional organisational structure was put in place to support the growth of cricket outside its traditional centres of strength: four Regions were established, each with a development manager, which became five when the East Asia-Pacific region was created in 1999; a system of regional tournaments was set up; and the number of Associates and Affiliates began to grow rapidly.
When Dalmiya took office in 1997 the ICC had 47 members, including 22 Associates and 16 Affiliates; within a decade, the number had more than doubled, and by 2008 had reached 104, including 34 Associates and 60 Affiliates. In establishing its global structure, the ICC was able to build on developments which had already taken place: the Asian Cricket Conference had been set up as early as 1983, becoming the Asian Cricket Council a decade later, and the European Cricket Federation followed in 1988. In Africa and the Americas there were already international links, but it was the creation of the ICC’s development programme which saw these given a continent-wide dimension.
In 1998 the Australian Ross Turner was appointed the first ICC Global Development Manager, to be succeeded in 2000 by Andrew Eade, and then in 2003 by Matthew Kennedy. It all happened remarkably quickly, and represented a huge change of tempo as well as direction for the ICC. But significant as this was, it was dwarfed by the commercial transformation which the new president brought about.
Having achieved a financial revolution in India by skilfully exploiting the mass hunger for televised cricket and the commercial opportunities it offered, Dalmiya and his associate IS Bindra now brought the same approach to the world game. The result was a huge increase in the ICC’s revenues, a portion of which was used to fund the Global Development Program.
A great deal has been achieved in the thirteen years since Dalmiya and his allies gained control of the ICC, although there are times when the triumph of marketing and commercial exploitation over more traditional values is thought by some to overbalance the whole structure. There can, however, be no doubt that the revolution has been beneficial to the development of the game, and initiatives like the Intercontinental Cup and the World Cricket League have transformed cricket’s global map.