Cricket: England batting for World Cup with pounds 5m

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND yesterday stumped up around pounds 5m for the right to stage the next World Cup, an offer that is probably only a shade more than that of their sub-continental rivals, but whether the 1995 final ends up at Lord's, or Eden Gardens, Calcutta, may ultimately depend on how large a slice of the cake goes to the likes of non-participants such as Argentina, the United States, and Papua New Guinea.

The International Cricket Council's voting procedures are designed to keep lawyers either in work or a padded cell, but in broad terms, the two votes for each of the nine full members tots up to one less than the one each for the 19 associates.

England's bid, which was disclosed yesterday, involves guaranteeing large sums to the 12 countries actually taking part (pounds 300,000 as a minimum for the nine full members, pounds 150,000 for the three associate qualifiers, and pounds 65,000 for the rest).

Details of the bid from the sub-continent's tripartite of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka remain hazy, but they are thought to involve offering a bigger shareout (from what is believed to be a slightly smaller total bid than England's) to the ICC minnows.

What further complicates the issue is that ICC regulations require a two-thirds majority vote, plus the support of one of the two Foundation (original) members, England and Australia.

This former clause in the small print is the kind of absurdity that has helped fuel the ICC's reputation for rarely getting anything done without dissolving into a fearful lather, while the latter bolsters the suspicions of the likes of Pakistan and the West Indies that the black nations, like the offspring of domineering parents, are required to be seen but not heard.

On this particular issue, it is hardly likely that England will vote against themselves, which means, under the strict letter of the law, that the sub-continent's bid is entirely down to the whims of Australia.

Unless England and Australia agree to waive this constitutional right, the odds are heavily in favour of one of the ICC's more familiar announcements after their special meeting on 2 February. 'Er, sorry, haven't decided yet.'

If indecision prevails, as it usually does, the whole thing will be postponed until the next scheduled full meeting in July, when all 28 countries will be more or less obliged to agree upon a straight vote.

Of the full members, England, Australia and New Zealand are currently thought to be in one camp, with Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe in the other. South Africa's close links with India might work against England, although the impoverished West Indies might vote for the Test and County Cricket Board offer if it guarantees them more money.

England's bid includes pounds 300,000 towards the ICC administration costs, and their attempt to woo the associate members involves pounds 150,000 towards running the mini-World Cup in Kenya in 1994. They have also outlined, in a 20-page document, what they also consider to be the advantages of staging the World Cup in this country.

They quote experience of running the first three competitions, the long hours of daylight, better practice facilities, ample provision for warm-up matches, ease of transport (presumably, the M25 on a Friday night fails to get a mention) and short travelling distances. 'The emphasis of our submission has been placed very much on the competition itself and the participants,' the TCCB working party chairman, Doug Insole, said.

If the TCCB does win the vote, the players themselves have been allocated pounds 250,000 in total prize money, and the winners' cheque of pounds 50,000 is roughly double the sum Pakistan received for beating England in Melbourne last January.