The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chair election is looming and a clearer picture of candidates should be emerging in the coming weeks ahead of November’s contest.
As always, the spotlight is shining on India’s all-powerful cricket board (BCCI). For at least the past year, there has been a feeling from in and around the board that the BCCI want to grab back the reins.
Cricket’s undisputed power has enormous sway regardless, but the timing could be opportunistic for India to firmly steer the ship amid a new-look board, fresh ICC staff and with the sport seemingly at an inflection point.
The BCCI, according to sources, had been influential in the outcome of the last chair election in late 2020, where New Zealand’s Greg Barclay prevailed over then acting chair Imran Khwaja of Singapore.
Barclay has publicly stated his willingness to continue although his fate could be determined by whether India puts forward a candidate. During the Indian Premier League in May, BCCI bosses Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah sounded out fellow board directors during a get together, according to sources. There was no confirmation of any run, but rather a keen interest of the permutations ahead fuelling a belief from those there that Ganguly and Shah were eyeing the chair.
MORE FOR YOU
Industry insiders at the time believed Shah was the more likely to run, but the wash up of the Supreme Court order on the BCCI constitution has Indian media reporting that Ganguly is set to be India’s candidate if he so wishes.
A BCCI AGM will be held on October 18, where a decision will be made whether India nominate a candidate to contest the ICC chair election.
It appears other potential candidates are waiting on a decision from India before entering the fray. After such a bruising contest last time, deputy chair Khwaja may be reluctant although the board stalwart still holds particular gravitas, particularly among the Associates, and has received encouragement to re-contest, according to sources.
There are many new faces on the board, including from powers Australia and England, who are too inexperienced to make a run for this election limiting the likely pool of candidates.
High-profile Pakistan Cricket Board boss Ramiz Raja, who has been on the ICC board for about a year, confirmed to me he was not interested in contesting.
It is not known if any former ICC directors will put their hands up with few names being bandied around, but things should intensify in October much like two years ago when Barclay surprisingly became a late candidate after ex England chair Colin Graves failed to garner requisite support.
Amid much uncertainty with cricket, the chair election could become an era-defining contest.
Iain Higgins finds a landing spot, but not in cricket
Former high-profile administrator Iain Higgins has landed a new job away from cricket. Higgins, the former chief operating officer of the ICC and USA Cricket chief executive, was recently appointed as managing director at Ellvee – a Dubai-based commercial and strategic advisory business for the sports and entertainment industry.
After 11 years climbing the ranks of the ICC, the well regarded Higgins was tasked with lifting the sport’s sleeping giant out of the dregs and things at USA Cricket were rosy for a while.
Alongside chair Paraag Marathe, the long-time San Francisco 49ers senior administrator, Higgins helped inject USA Cricket with credibility amid exciting plans, including next year’s professional T20 franchise competition, co-hosting the 2024 T20 World Cup and cricket’s 2028 Los Angeles Olympics bid.
But the infamous toxicity in American cricket once again reared culminating in Higgins’ contentious departure and a reported $300,000 payment from the USA Cricket board. It was an inglorious end to a stint, which promised so much, lasting just two years and Higgins decided to venture out of cricket administration.
One year ago, when it appeared clear that Higgins was on the way out of USA Cricket, there had been a belief from industry insiders that the former professional rugby player was a likely replacement for axed ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney.
That didn’t eventuate and Higgins has for the time being been lost to cricket.