Cricket: ICC song and dance remains

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WHEN Sir Colin Cowdrey announced at Lord's yesterday that Clyde Walcott would succeed him as chairman of the International Cricket Council in October, he added, somewhat ruefully, that the meeting just concluded marked 'a moment when the MCC stands down from administering ICC affairs'. As he said this, a cardboard lion, the logo for the 1994 ICC Trophy, toppled from his desk.

The symbolism was acute. At the end of the week, Australia's David Richards starts as the ICC's first chief executive. One of the few decisions actually taken yesterday saw England and Australia, as Sir Colin put it, 'graciously volunteered' to relinquish their right of veto, rarely exercised though it may be. In order to effect change on so-called 'major issues' (constitutional amendments, membership, subscriptions and penalties) a three-quarters majority vote will be required as opposed to two-thirds.

The song and dance, however, remains much the same. Most issues of concern to the outside world - bouncers, third umpires, referees and qualification rules - have been delegated for discussion by, guess what, a new committee. The ICC cricket committee will comprise one representative each from the UK (Sir Colin), the West Indies (Walcott), Southern Africa, Australasia, and the associate members, plus two from the Indian subcontinent. It will not, needless to add, be empowered to make decisions.

Described by Sir Colin as 'a thorny issue', the experimental law limiting bowlers to one bouncer per over, which Pakistan voted to scrap and England to retain, will continue at least until its three-year trial expires next summer. 'There was a clear concensus against it,' the outgoing chairman conceded, but the conclusion was that it will be wrong to 'dash' into anything else until 'a viable and sensible alternative' had emerged. The words 'dash' and 'ICC', it may be gathered by now, seldom occupy the same sentence.

The experiment with TV replays, reported Sir Colin, had been 'very favourably received' and will be persisted with over the coming year 'wherever the TV facilities are adequate'. The question of broadening the remit of the third umpire, along with the bouncer law, will be debated by next month's inaugural Umpires Conference in Birmingham.

Needled by Martin McCague's defection, Australia raised the qualification issue but too late to force a vote. The Australian board has been asked to put its arguments on paper and present the result to Richards, who will relay it to the various boards for examination. Among the matters not deferred were Ireland's acceptance - and Scotland's rejection - as an associate member, and confirmation that 'rebel' matches are not considered first-class. And to think life was beginning to look up for Graham Gooch.