More than two-thirds of international players in a recent survey conducted by FICA believe that the Indian Cricket Board (Board of Control for Cricket in India) exerts unfair influence on ICC decision-making but 40 per cent of them said they were willing to skip national duty for playing in the cash-rich IPL run by the BCCI.
Asked if ICC decision-making was influenced unfairly by the power of BCCI, 69 per cent said ‘yes’ while 31 per cent answered ‘don’t know’
None of the respondents gave a definitive ‘no’ in the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations survey of 45 international players during the recent World Cup in the subcontinent.
No Indian player is a member of FICA.
FICA chief executive Tim May, who released the survey results, said the findings raised important issues, with 46 per cent of the players saying the structure and composition of the ICC executive board should be reviewed.
“Players have highlighted that the governance of the game is a serious issue. FICA have continually advocated for a review of the game’s governance. Its present structure is outdated, full of conflicts, cronyism and far from best practice,” he said.
Interestingly, nearly a third of players polled said they would retire early from international cricket to play exclusively in Indian Premier League, citing fears over fixture clashes curbing their participation in IPL.
Around 40 per cent of players feel that given the magnitude of salaries being offered by the IPL, they could envisage a day where they would rank their obligations to IPL and other T20 events ahead of obligations to their home boards.
And, 94 per cent of the players believed that superior salaries offered by the IPL would motivate younger players to hone their skills principally to Twenty20.
Only six per cent of players polled believed that decisions at the ICC board level were made “in the best interests of cricket”, while 49 per cent felt decisions were made according to “party lines or best interests of the country that they are representing”. The remaining players were “unsure”.
“The Indian Premier League continues to be popular with the players, and its superior pay structures for the players, continue to challenge players’ priority over international cricket,” May said.
“When players are able to earn over 10 times their annual salary from their Boards, for just seven weeks cricket in the IPL, it would be foolhardy of Boards to continue to schedule international matches during IPL and expect players to remain loyal to the Board and international cricket,” he said.
He, however, said that the ICC day-to-day management has improved considerably and the world body’s image was tarnished as a result of decisions of the ICC Chief Executive and Board Committees.
Spot-fixing ban 'lenient'
In another important finding, 77 per cent of respondents believed that the five-year bans handed to three Pakistani cricketers by the ICC for spot-fixing offences last year were too lenient.
An ICC tribunal found Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif guilty of orchestrating deliberate pre-planned no-balls during the Test against England last August, and they received bans ranging from five to ten years.
None of the 45 players surveyed believed the penalties were too harsh, while 23 per cent considered the bans “fair”.
Notably, FICA is not affiliated with players from Pakistan, besides from India and Zimbabwe.
“The vast number of players want significant penalties to be invoked against those who are found guilty of serious corruption offences,” May said.
“Whilst 100 percent of players say that they will report any corrupt approaches made to them, 20 percent of them do not have confidence in the ICC to treat this information confidentially,” said May.
May said the majority of the 45 players polled were more comfortable reporting corruption approaches to their team manager, than to the ICC Anti Corruption Unit.
Make DRS compulsory
An overwhelming majority of the players polled strongly supported the Umpire Decision Review System with 97 per cent of them saying that the DRS should be made compulsory in all Test matches. India has been a staunch critic of the DRS.
82 per cent said the DRS made for better decision-making from umpires at the World Cup. However, 74 per cent of the players surveyed felt the World Cup in the subcontinent was still too long while 72 per cent backed the decision to reduce the number of teams in the next World Cup to 10. 91 per cent felt the Associate nations should have a chance to qualify.
The survey also revealed a strong support for 50-over cricket with only 24 per cent of the players polled favoured a change in the format of ODIs. 39 per cent felt the cricket boards scheduled too many ODIs, reducing the public interest in the format.
The FICA survey revealed some good news for the ICC, with 94 per cent of players rating the recent World Cup in the subcontinent as “good” or above, compared to only 11 per cent giving the 2007 tournament that level of support.