ICC board meeting in Ahmedabad – SLC’s suspension, future of ODI cricket among key talking points

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Sri Lanka Cricket’s suspension, the future of ODI cricket and a revival of a high-performance programme aimed at the top Associates and some Full Members are all set to be on the agenda at the upcoming ICC board meeting in Ahmedabad.

The quarterly meetings, the last of the year, begin on Saturday with various committees before the ICC board meeting set for Tuesday, two days after the 2023 ODI World Cup final. While some of the big-ticket items have been effectively finalised, such as the revenue distribution model for the 2024-27 cycle of events and cricket’s entry into the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028, there remain a number of talking points.

Sri Lanka Cricket’s board suspension

SLC’s suspension last week is set to dominate the ICC board meeting. Possible conditions over the suspension will be debated as well as whether Sri Lanka continue to remain hosts of the men’s under-19 World Cup in January and February.

The ICC’s deputy chair Imran Khwaja is likely to be an influential voice having been engaged to look into potential political interference for a while. He investigated the matter in May during a fact-finding mission to Sri Lanka.

The future of ODI cricket

Two days after the ODI World Cup final, possible discussions around the future of the 50-overs format are on the cards. There will be at least two boards pushing for the revival of the recently-scrapped 13-team ODI Super League. With a new qualification pathway already approved for a 14-team 2027 men’s ODI World Cup, the Super League, if it does return, could only do so from 2028.

Zimbabwe – co-hosts of the 2027 ODI World Cup along with South Africa and Namibia – are advocating for an analysis to be conducted over the current World Cup to gauge its global popularity.

“This World Cup came at the same time as the rugby World Cup, so it would be a good opportunity to compare the audience and measure our global impact as a sport,” Zimbabwe Cricket chair Tavengwa Mukuhlani said.

“It felt like the Rugby World Cup was more popular, especially in countries where both sports are popular. I don’t think the problem is with the ODI format… there aren’t enough teams in the World Cup, even 14 isn’t enough. And there won’t be context without the Super League.

“We need ODI cricket, we can’t afford to not have it. It is still a money-maker for us and many countries.”

High-performance programme revival

The ICC’s high-performance programme is set for a revival, having been scrapped late last decade, after running for 15 years. The programme was aimed at top Associate nations and included player development pathways and specialised administrative structures to help professionalise those deemed close to Full Member status.

The new programme, in a point of difference, will involve Full Members Ireland, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and possibly others. It has been resurrected as the ICC look to establish development programmes through funds from its next four-year commercial cycle. Funding from the programme is hoped to encourage more fixtures between these countries, including A tours and women’s cricket matches.

An as yet unspecified amount has been mooted, taken from the ICC’s overall revenues, to be divided among these boards. But specific details, including the countries involved and total funding allocated, will be revealed at the meeting.

Funding from revenue distribution model set aside to create reserves

Some of the funds allocated to members in the new distribution model will be diverted into a retained surplus fund totalling US$100 million a year, which will be invested and distributed back to members at a later time.

The interest accrued will be distributed according to the contribution by the member in what is seen as a prudent financial measure with uncertainty over what type of media rights deal will be struck for the cycle of 2028-31. Full Members will contribute US$ 88.8 million to this fund – of which the BCCI will put US$ 38.5 million – annually and the Associates US$11.2 million.

But not everyone is satisfied with the arrangement. With plans to build a cricket stadium in Dublin, Ireland want to receive its full US$18 million a year allocation. Around US$3 million a year of their funding is earmarked for the surplus fund and so too Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

“We need funding to do that [build infrastructure],” Cricket Ireland high-performance director Richard Holdsworth said. “To withhold what it looks like to be about US$12 million over four years….maybe that’s for the members to make the right decisions as to whether they stick money into reserves or spend it all now.

“For us, we’ve got a lot of things to invest in and we need to do that now. We can’t wait four years.”

Cricket at the Olympics

After returning to the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games recently, T20 cricket was last month officially confirmed as an Olympic sport for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. The board will formalise cricket’s inclusion and there is expected to be discussion over possible qualification pathways.

Some boards hope that more than six teams per gender can be included in subsequent Olympics after Los Angeles.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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