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PCB chief Ehsan Mani to lead ICC Finance committee

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The ICC has appointed Ehsan Mani, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, as the head of one of its most powerful committees – Finance & Commercial Affairs.

Mani’s appointment brings to an end the stranglehold that the Indian, English and Australian cricket boards had for more than a decade over the F&CA, which is responsible for designing budgets for ICC events and distributing money to its member countries.

The other members of this committee are Indra Nooyi (independent director), Amitabh Choudhury (BCCI acting secretary), Chris Nenzani (CSA president), Imran Khawaja (ICC vice-chairman), Earl Eddings (CA chairman) and Colin Graves (ECB chairman). ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and ICC chief executive officer Manu Sawhney will also sit on the F&CA as ex-officio members.

This will be Mani’s second time as F&CA chairman. He had held the post between 1996 and 2002 and negotiated the ICC’s first ever broadcast rights deal then worth approximately USD 550 million. Mani, then, moved on to become ICC president until 2006 and was also instrumental in helping the ICC seal a USD 1.1 billion media rights deal with ESPN Star Sports for the 2007-15 cycle.

It is understood that Manohar had recommended Mani to the F&CA chair during the ICC annual conference held in London last week.

This committee holds significant power within the ICC. Back in 2014, when its working group comprising N Srinivasan, Wally Edwards and Giles Clarke (heads of the BCCI, CA and ECB respectively) put forward a revenue distribution model that allowed India, Australia and England to take home a greater share of the ICC’s profits on the argument that they brought in the most money anyway. The model broke down in 2017 when Manohar took charge and said it amounted to bullying by cricket’s Big Three countries.

In the last 10 years only one person outside the Big Three has led the F&CA – Alan Issac, former head of New Zealand Cricket, in 2011-12. Interestingly, when the ICC Board approved the Big Three revamp in 2014, Issac was the governing body’s president.

Leading the F&CA, Mani, who also sits on the ICC Audit Committee, will be taking some major decisions, including identifying the events the ICC will host in its next cycle (post 2023 World Cup) and negotiating the media rights deal for that period.



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Nasir Jamshed pleads guilty to bribery at PSL fixtures

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Nasir Jamshed, the former Pakistan batsman, will be sentenced in February after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to bribe fellow cricketers in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Jamshed, 33, was given a ten-year ban by the PCB in August 2018, and is standing trial at Manchester Crown Court, following his arrest in February 2017 alongside two UK nationals, Yousef Anwar, 36, and Mohammed Ijaz, 34.

On the opening day of the trial, Jamshed chose to change his plea, having originally entered a not-guilty plea at a pre-trial hearing last week, after his two co-defendants admitted offering financial inducements to PSL players, with a view to them under-performing during various matches in the tournament.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Andrew Thomas QC told how an undercover police officer infiltrated the spot-fixing network, and secured an initial meeting with Anwar, by posing as a member of a corrupt betting syndicate.

His investigations identified an attempted fix during the Bangladesh Premier League in 2016 and an actual fix in the PSL fixture between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in Dubai on February 9.

Jamshed, acting as the go-between for the PSL game, persuaded Sharjeel Khan to play out two dot-balls to order from the first two balls of Islamabad’s second over. Sharjeel was later banned for five years by the PCB.

The court heard how Jamshed himself had been the intended fixer during the BPL contests, when he and Sharjeel were both playing for Rangpur Riders.

However, the first attempt was called off when Jamshed did not give all the pre-arranged signals – which included the use of certain coloured batting grips. And a second attempt against Barisal Bulls was cancelled after he was dropped for what was the final match of the season.

The court also heard how Jamshed’s co-defendant, Anwar, had first met the undercover officer at a hotel in Slough in November 2016, where he said he had been involved in spot-fixing for ten years, and claimed to have six players working for him in the BPL.

A second meeting, at a restaurant in Birmingham in January 2017, resulted in Khan and his Islamabad team-mate, Khalid Latif, being lined up for the next fix in the PSL.

The prosecutor added that Latif’s bag had been searched upon arrival from the UK to Dubai, and a number of coloured grips were found. He was also banned for five years by the PCB.



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Won’t negotiate with any current board members – SACA

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The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) will not engage with Cricket South Africa’s negotiating panel if it includes any members of the current board. In a statement released on Monday, three days after CSA CEO Thabang Moroe was suspended and an interim administration headed by Jacques Faul was appointed, SACA again called for the entire board to step down, although they have agreed to dealings with Faul.

“SACA has noted the appointment of Jacques Faul, as the acting chief executive, and is prepared to deal with him in good faith in order to attempt to resolve as many as possible of the current crises affecting the players. SACA will not, however, lend credibility to the Board of CSA by dealing with a ‘negotiating panel’ if this comprises any Board members,” Tony Irish, the SACA CEO, said.

“Cricket has been severely damaged by its own leadership and the game desperately needs the right people in whom the cricket stakeholders, including the players, can trust in attempting to fix as much of the damage as possible.”

SACA has two ongoing disputes with CSA: a court-case relating to the proposed restructure of the domestic system and a commercial rights issue in which players’ have been used in a fantasy cricket game, allegedly without the proper permissions. When Faul was appointed in an acting capacity on Saturday, CSA President Chris Nenzani identified fixing the organisation’s relationship with SACA as a “matter of urgency”.

“It is very important for us to normalise relations at that level and talk to the players so that we have a common approach and a common understanding on the way of doing things going forward. That matter is going to be attended to. This is part of engagement which CSA will be having with SACA as a matter of urgency. It is important that these two organisations, CSA and SACA, get to a point where all the issues that seem to be vexatious between us and them are handled and are dealt with in a manner that is very professional and conclusive,” Nenzani said.

The Members’ Council – made up of the 14 provincial presidents some of whom also sit on the CSA board – mandated the board to “fix this relationship with SACA,” through a negotiating panel. The members of this panel have yet to be decided but SACA has made it clear they will not have any dialogue if CSA board members are included. SACA has demanded the board be held equally responsible as Moroe for the myriad crises enveloping CSA at the moment which range from financial issues to staff suspensions.

“We are astounded that the Board of CSA which has led the organisation during a tumultuous period when all this has happened now refuses to take responsibility for the deep, deep crisis in which cricket finds itself. No one disagrees with the removal of the chief executive, but to suggest that the buck stopped with him alone, and for the Board to cling so desperately to power, is a matter for serious concern,” Irish said.

SACA claims the board were complicit in ignoring the player body’s concerns, especially as they relate to the domestic restructure. CSA’s members’ forum are advocating for the dismantling of the current six-team franchise and 14-team provincial structure and reverting to a 12-team provincial set-up thus operating with only one tier in domestic cricket. SACA argue that around 70 cricketers will lose their jobs as a result. SACA launched a court application in May this year to ask CSA to show cause for its plans to restructure the set-up, and believe it then “became incumbent on the Board to, at very least, take a good look at the risk that this presented to the organisation, and to the game, and to deal with it expeditiously. Instead, however CSA delayed the proceedings for months and its answering papers were only filed at court in November 2019.”

CSA’s court documents were submitted after SACA and CSA agreed a roadmap in August which SACA accuses CSA of not honouring. “There was a refusal to follow up on the agreement, despite several requests to do so by SACA. The president himself eventually replied to SACA some seven weeks later stating that CSA would not enter into such agreement with the players’ association, effectively scuppering any chance of resolving these issues for the players,” Irish said.

CSA did not immediately respond to ESPNcricinfo’s request for comment.



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Recent Match Report – Tasmania vs South Australia, Sheffield Shield, 18th Match

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Tasmania 254 and 6 for 241 (McDermott 88*, Agar 3-44) lead South Australia 346 (Weatherald 126, Carey 73, Bird 4-70) by 149 runs

South Australia’s charge towards a drought-breaking Sheffield Shield win was halted a fine unbeaten 88 from Tasmania’s Ben McDermott to put the game back in the balance at Bellerive Oval.

Tasmania had slumped to 4 for 55 after Wes Agar had ripped through the top order to leave Tasmania 37 behind with only six wickets in hand. But McDermott stood firm absorbing 232 deliveries to make an unbeaten 88 that only included nine boundaries. He got excellent support from Jake Doran who contributed 44 in their 94-run partnership. Lawrence Neil-Smith also made 31 not out in a 69-run unbeaten seven-wicket stand that saw Tasmania through to stumps.

McDermott is just 12 shy of what would be his second first-class century but Tasmania have an opportunity to set South Australia a decent final day chase for their first Shield win in more than two seasons, just a week after they fell agonisingly short against Western Australia.

Earlier, George Bailey fell for a golden duck in his final Shield innings. He lost his off stump not offering a shot to an Agar off-cutter that jagged a long way off the seam. Bailey is set to retire from Shield cricket after this game to take up a post a national selector for the Australian teams.



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