ICC's 'big three' plan formally approved

An overhaul of the way international cricket is run, and its earnings distributed, is afoot, with the contentious plan promoted by the game's big-three nations formally approved.

The changes will result in Australia, England and, especially, India gaining a larger financial share of earnings from international events. The significant shift in influence too was marked by approval for Board of Control for Cricket in India president N. Srinivasan to take the chairmanship of the ICC later this year.

The plan was approved at a meeting in Singapore, thanks to Cricket South Africa electing to support the changes. The main dissidents, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, abstained from voting.

The biggest practical change involves the scrapping of the Future Tours Program, the schedule of matches which sets out all series due to be played until 2020. In its place teams have been asked to begin negotiations, ''as a matter of urgency'', with each nation individually to create a schedule of matches to run until 2023.

The ICC board, which is comprised of representatives of each nation, also confirmed the axing of the mooted World Test Championship, on the basis it had ''proved impossible to come up with a format for a four-team finals event in Test cricket that fits the culture of Test cricket and preserves the integrity of the format''.

In its place the Champions Trophy 50-over tournament, which had been due to cease after last year's event in England, has been reinstated and will be held in 2017 and 2021.

A key factor behind the change, and the abandonment of the plan for a play-off between the top-four Test teams, was a belief there would be a much greater bidding appetite for TV rights to the Champions Trophy, rather than the World Test Championship.

A concession which seems to have swayed some of the small nations into adopting the big-three-led plan was the creation of a fund to subsidise the costs to teams of hosting Tests, often at a financial loss because of the lack of broadcaster or spectator interest. India, Australia and England will be excluded from that fund.

The statement from the ICC board following the approval of the overhaul sought to justify the change in financial distribution policy so ''full members will gain greater financial recognition based on the contribution they have made to the game, particularly in terms of finance, their ICC history and their on-field performances in the three formats'', a reference to the big-three bloc. A key factor in the agreement was India's threat to pull out of ICC-run tournaments, and therefore significantly undermine the value of the TV rights agreements for them.

''This decision is the outcome of a negotiation between members that has been required to provide long-term certainty of participation of all members in both ICC events and bilateral series against other Members. Without that certainty, the rights for ICC events, which are to be taken to market this year, would have been significantly impacted and, by extension, so would the financial support that has driven the growth of cricket around the world,'' the ICC board declared.

''The structure of the model will ensure that none of the full members will be worse off than they are at present and - if forecasts of revenue generation prove to be correct — all will be significantly better off. The agreement of the model has been an important part of a wider negotiation that will now provide long-term certainty of participation in ICC events by all of the full-member teams.''

Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards, whose support for the overhaul has proved contentious, has been appointed the inaugural chair of the ICC's executive committee.

ICC president Alan Isaac said the resolutions from the meeting in Singapore ''provide us with long-term certainty in relation to the future governance, competition and financial models of the ICC''.

The story ICC's 'big three' plan formally approved first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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