Cricket: 'Big Three' to see powers reduced

A week of one-on-ones held in hushed tones, dinners on corporate credit cards and board meetings in Dubai has resulted in a partial back-down on the unpopular 2014 moves that effectively handed cricket to the Big Three.

And, as expected, New Zealand Cricket has backed the changes, a volte-face on their position in 2014 when they sided with India, England and Australia - the self-styled Big Three - as they made a land grab for control of the ICC and the lion's share of revenue.

A board meeting of the full member nations in Dubai agreed to implement a steering committee that will decide what the new ICC structure will look like. In the meantime, the chairmanship of the ICC will return to an independent position and the two major committees - financial and commercial affairs, and executive committee - will also be restructured so they are not necessarily controlled by the Big Three.

Greg Barclay, NZC's representative on the ICC, defended NZC's apparent flip-flop.

"We weren't that unpopular," he said of their decision to originally back the Big Three.

"Everyone made that decision knowing that India had the influence to affect their tour programmes.

"We had to look at it from a pragmatic and commercial perspective. From our point of view, nothing stays as it is. There was always going to be changes."

Submissions to the steering committee close at the end of April and the proposed new structure will be voted on at the AGM in June.

"It is politics. You know you've got to change," Barclay said. "There's no point taking India on head on; it's just not going to work. They make the money along with, to a lesser extent, England and Australia."

South Africa Cricket, under the leadership of Haroon Lorgat, know the cost of taking on the BCCI, India's controlling body, head on. In 2013, a two-month in-bound tour from India was truncated to a two-test tour - at an estimated to cost South Africa close to $US20 million.

In that regard, NZC's realpolitik approach is understandable, if somewhat short of admirable.

Cricket is also unique in that it is still the international game that spins the wheel, though that might be slowly changing with the proliferation of franchise-based T20 tournaments.

For countries like New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the member nations of the West Indies, who don't have monstrously lucrative domestic T20 tournaments or eight-figure broadcast deals, the risk of international isolation is acute.

If the Big Three stop touring and one of these countries for any reason, the only big cheques they're going to cash are from the World Cup, T20 world championships and, perhaps, a revived Champions Trophy.

So even though we are apparently moving towards a more equitable, transparent and accountable ICC, which we should all applaud, make no mistake - the Big Three will still wield a disproportionately big club.

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