The cricket powers and the ICC ought to know better than to try to keep a major plan secret

Three great cricket powers — India, England, Australia, plus the world governing body ICC — ought to know better than to try to keep a major plan secret. It rarely works.

For several years England and ICC had one of the finest sports journalists in the world as their public relations chief. I am sure that Colin Gibson, veteran of sporting turmoil as sports editor of three famous newspapers and an experienced hand at the Football Association, Lord’s and Dubai will have warned the men who have been trying to put together a new format for international cricket.

He must have known better than anyone that secrets fly out of the window when a sport is surrounded by a corps of highly-trained, highly-motivated, competitive reporters.

So, as might have been expected, the secret has seeped out although not all the details have reached the public domain.

It will be some time before a public announcement is made and all the justifications for the biggest shake-up since the Packer Revolution in 1977, can be released.

More to emerge

The result is confusion. Nirmal Shekar wrote a lucid piece in this newspaper earlier in the week but it is clear that there are many more facts to emerge.

It would have been better for ICC to issue a statement explaining some of the issues which have brought about this new way of the cricket world and why it is necessary. Otherwise there will be a suspicion — already beginning to gather strength — this plot is no more than a take-over to ensure that the cash goes to the rich.

(That may be true of course but these take-over types need to get their reasons in early.)

Whenever a story of this magnitude breaks I wonder what the men who run cricket have got away with in the past that makes them think they can act in secret.

In addition I wonder whether all the changes that have been made in England management recently as well as the shocking series of results in Australia grow out of this secret desire for change.

Hugh Morris has stood down as managing director of the England team; a powerful and wide-ranging post. He has taken a much lesser spot with his county Glamorgan. I told myself it was part of his recovery from cancer — much like the disease that overtook Geoff Boycott — but now I wonder if the highest officials wanted someone like Paul Downton, who has a reputation for calm that stood him in good stead as England wicketkeeper and his work in the City.

Strangest of all was the decision to step aside by Geoff Miller, another cool guy, who never appeared to let his job of selecting England teams upset him as it sometimes did David Graveney, his predecessor. Miller is only 61, active and, on the surface, ready for a long stay in this exacting job.

England adamant

At the other end of the scale England has refused to sack either its much-beaten captain Alastair Cook who seems to make a daily announcement about his future. England also seems perfectly content to keep the coach Andy Flower in place even though he would — as several writers have pointed out — have been thrown out on his ear if he had been the manager of a Premier League club.

So at one and the same time England has to supervise the rebuilding of the Test team from players recently shown to have feet of clay and to take on board all the implications of the new organisation.

It will stretch its strength to the limit and my belief is that it may crack under the strain.