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Afghanistan, Ireland gain Test status as ICC secures new financial pact

Afghanistan and Ireland have today (Thursday) become cricket’s 11th and 12th Test-playing nations, while the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has come to an agreement to end its financial dispute with the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The ICC’s annual general meeting in London today saw Afghanistan and Ireland approved as full members of the global governing body meaning they are now eligible to play Test cricket. In February, the ICC confirmed it was considering promoting Ireland and Afghanistan to Test status, as long as they could fulfil full membership criteria.

The two associate nations have fought a long campaign to be granted the right to play Test cricket and their bid for full membership was rubber-stamped at today’s ICC board meeting.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “I’d like to congratulate Afghanistan and Ireland on their full membership status which is the result of their dedication to improving performance both off and on the field resulting in the significant development and growth of cricket in their respective countries. Both have clearly demonstrated they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to full membership.”

The decision followed the unanimous adoption of an extensively revised constitution for the ICC which in addition to transforming the membership process through the adoption of new membership criteria, introduced a female independent director and a deputy chairman and equalised board voting.

In other news, today’s meetings have also resulted in an end to the dispute between the ICC and the BCCI, cricket’s most powerful national body, through the unanimous agreement of a new financial model.

The BCCI last month stepped away from the threat of a boycott of the 2017 Champions Trophy national team tournament, which concluded on Sunday, but said it was keeping its legal options open amid continued dissatisfaction over planned reforms of the world game by the ICC.

The BCCI held a special general meeting in the wake of being comprehensively outvoted in April on plans to introduce a revamped financial model in the world game and substantial constitutional changes at the ICC. The ICC agreed “in principle” in February to reverse a move to put the boards of India, Australia and England in a dominant position of the game’s administration.

The BCCI, along with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), voted against the proposal to perform a u-turn on the 2014 decision after failing to defer the vote during February’s ICC board meeting in Dubai. Under the restructuring, the new revenue distribution model sought to counter the imbalance favouring the so-called ‘big three’.

Under the current big three model, full members receive a contribution cost for participating in ICC events based on their perceived value in the sport. Following the decision in February to reverse the 2014 resolutions, a revised financial model was presented to the ICC board and passed. This model was rubber-stamped by 13 votes to one in April, with the BCCI the single voice of opposition.

As such, under the revenue distribution for the cycle 2016-2023, the BCCI was projected to receive $293m (€261.5m) across the eight-year cycle, having sought $570m – the same figure it would have gained under the original big three model.

Based on current forecasted revenues and costs, the ICC today said the BCCI will receive $405m across the eight-year cycle, while the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will gain $139m, Zimbabwe Cricket $94m and the seven existing full members $128m each. The associate members, together with Ireland and Afghanistan, will collectively receive funding of $240m.

Meanwhile, the ICC Full Council also voted unanimously to expel the USA Cricket Association (USACA), whose administration has been in turmoil for months. The ICC said further details will be issued in the coming days outlining the process which will now be followed to establish a new governing body for cricket in the USA that is capable of “unifying the fractured cricket community”.

Commenting on today’s developments, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said: “I would like to thank all ICC members for their commitment to changing the constitution for the good of the global game. This is the first step towards the ICC improving its governance and I believe that these changes will benefit all members and enable us to continue to grow the global game.”