The International Cricket Council (ICC) — cricket's governing body — on Thursday banned countries from appointing politicians to national boards, vowing to free the sport from undue government influence.

At a meeting here, the ICC took the decision to uphold “the important principle of free elections and the independence” of the sport.

“It was agreed that all member boards must implement the provisions before the annual conference in June 2012 and a further 12 months — to June 2013 — would be allowed before any sanctions are considered,” the ICC said in a statement.

The reform, which allows the ICC to suspend a member country in the event of government interference in the running of a national cricket board, will be hugely controversial in Pakistan where the President is the board's patron. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will also be hit by the change.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chairman Ijaz Butt has been criticised by former players, politicians and media for being a political appointee of the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

The PCB has already sent a legal notice to the ICC on the amendment and has threatened legal action if the constitution is changed.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the ICC's full council after four days of talks between the chief executives' committee and the executive board at Hong Kong hotels.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the reform was needed to bring cricket in line with standards practised in other global sports.Mr. Lorgat said the ICC had “sensed over a while” that government agencies were interfering in the affairs of some cricket boards.

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