The ICC will only allow government intervention in cricket in matters related to security, its chief executive Haroon Lorgat has said. In its annual conference in Hong Kong which concluded on June 30, the ICC agreed to an amendment to its constitution that would require all member boards to hold free elections in a bid to democratise the governance of the game and do away with political or government interference. But that did not apply to security matters, Lorgat clarified.
"Only in one case will the ICC allow governments to interfere with the affairs of the member board: when there are security issues involved between the two countries, and if any national squad do not tour any other country on security grounds the ICC will accept government's writ," Lorgat told Dawn. Cricket tours to countries have been called off due to government directives, with Australia not touring Pakistan in the past and England refusing to play in Zimbabwe, most notably in the 2003 World Cup.
The boards most affected by the ICC's decision are the PCB, the Bangladesh Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket, though everyone has until 2013 to comply with the provisions of free elections and no political interference in their respective constitutions. The PCB chairman is appointed by the president of the country; all board presidents in Bangladesh are government-appointed and in Sri Lanka the board answers directly to the sports ministry, which on Friday dissolved SLC's interim committee and appointed a new one.
The PCB had objected to the ICC's proposal in April, sending a legal notice. The board had pointed to the issue of government involvement in security matters as evidence that there may be grey areas as a result of the amendment. But a compromise was worked out in meetings before the annual conference where it was agreed that boards would have till 2013 to comply with the new rules. During this period, the boards can discuss and try to resolve any potential problems of implementing the decision. The support for the amendment, Lorgat said, was unanimous.
"Every member country supported the amendment and it was required to make the member countries have a free election system, to hold a democratic process in the administration, which can strengthen the leadership of the board." When asked if the PCB supported it as well, Lorgat said: "Everyone".
The PCB will be discussing the amendment with the Pakistan government. "How we implement this reform will depend on our talks with the government," its chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed told reporters following his arrival in Pakistan from Hong Kong.
The ICC had appointed a Pakistan Task Force (PTT) with its initial aim being to examine ways to ensure international cricket returned to Pakistan. But the task force's objectives were broadened in the aftermath of the spot-fixing scandal to also promote an improvement in governance by the PCB. Lorgat said the task force, led by ECB chairman Giles Clarke, had submitted its state of affairs report along with some recommendations, and its role had ended.
"Now it comes to its logical ending and we have provided the full report by the task force to the PCB. The report has many parts; one relates to the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore in 2009 while another concerns the spot-fixing issues that surfaced in the Lord's Test [between Pakistan and England] in August 2010."
What if the recommendations suggested a return of international cricket to Pakistan? "Then the ICC will encourage the visiting country to go to Pakistan, but again we will accept government's directives over safety and security issues.