Speed dismisses Lillee\'s charges !
Speed dismisses Lillee's charges
Wisden Cricinfo staff - June 25, 2003
Within a day of Dennis Lillee's accusation that the International Cricket Council (ICC) was placing television-generated revenues ahead of the interests of the game, Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the ICC, hit back, clarifying that all the measures taken by the ICC were only to develop the game further. Lillee had lashed out against at the ICC Future Tours Program, which forced strong teams like Australia to play against minnows like Bangladesh. However, Speed defended the system, citing past examples of minnows who struggled to arrange Test series against the established teams.
"Dennis is winding two or three unrelated issues into one. Firstly, in relation to the schedule, the ICC Future Tours Program is driven by the desire to have all Test-playing countries play each other on a regular basis. This is to ensure that everyone has the chance to play at the highest level regularly.
"Up until recently the smaller countries were at the mercy of the bigger nations. Zimbabwe is still yet to play a Test in Australia despite being a full member for 11 years. In 1995 Sri Lanka had no home Test and had just two the following year against Zimbabwe.
"The ICC has already announced that it will review this program to ensure that it is still operating in the best interests of world cricket.
Speed also clarified that the ICC didn't make any money from the revenues generated from television coverage. "In relation to the money that is generated from these tours, apart from the ICC Cricket World Cup and other ICC tournaments, any television money from these series is paid directly to the home board, not the ICC. In the case of the Bangladesh tour, this is the Australian Cricket Board."
Though he expressed disappointment at Bangladesh's lack of development as an international team, Speed pointed out that the need was to support Bangladesh cricket, not abandon it.
"In relation to the performance of Bangladesh since they became a Test-playing country, I think everyone recognises that this has been disappointing. Only last week, the ICC president, Ehsan Mani, highlighted a number of steps that are being taken to assist Bangladesh lift its performance. This includes the prospect of reducing the amount of Test matches that it plays away from home.
"I think Steve Waugh summed this up quite well when he said recently `You've got to give them opportunities and chances, and I think they have to get some help as well'. Like Steve, I also think Sri Lanka is a good example of what is possible. Only 10 years after starting Test cricket Sri Lanka won the ICC Cricket World Cup. It is time to provide Bangladesh with assistance rather than punish them." Lillee had earlier suggested a two-tier system, with teams like Bangladesh being relegated to the second rung in order to preserve the value of international runs scored and wickets taken.
Speed continued: "The ICC's mandate is to develop the sport as a global game and to protect the spirit of cricket. The steps that have been taken in ensuring that all teams are able to play each other and the assistance that is being given to Bangladesh both reflect this role