JOHANNESBURG: The International Cricket Council was urged by the international players' body to investigate allegations of vote “fixing” on Tuesday after an Indian candidate was elected onto one of the ICC's committees amid accusations that voters were pressured into choosing him because of the influence of the powerful Indian cricket board.
The Federation of International Cricketers' Association said it was “formally” calling on the ICC to instigate an ethics committee enquiry into former India spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan winning a place on the ICC's Cricket Committee, which was announced by cricket's governing body on Monday.
“The ICC's actions in this matter cast serious doubt, if not on their ability, certainly on their willingness to adhere to proper governance,” FICA president Jimmy Adams said.
Sivaramakrishnan beat out FICA chief executive Tim May in a poll the players' body says was flawed because some of the 10 test captains who voted were allegedly pressured to change their initial selections and back Sivaramakrishnan, the preferred candidate of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
In a statement, FICA legal advisor Ian Smith referred to media reports that the national boards of five ICC member countries applied pressure on their captains to switch their votes from May to Sivaramakrishnan after May won an initial ballot and the BCCI then became involved.
“FICA's official stance is that these allegations must warrant careful and independent scrutiny, especially because we understand ICC specifically instructed the boards not to interfere in the voting process,” Smith said.
The vote is seen as another example of India's dominance of cricket's leadership and decision-making bodies _ as well as other international cricket boards _ because of its commercial might. The ICC has not yet commented either on the initial concerns expressed by FICA over the vote last week or on Tuesday's statement calling for an ethics committee investigation.
Like football's ruling body, FIFA, the ICC has come under recent pressure to reform, with critics saying it is subservient to the BCCI and India and the allegedly flawed vote to select Sivaramakrishnan is just the latest example.
“The actions, allegedly instigated by BCCI, are a timely and stark reminder of the very serious shortcomings in governance at (the) ICC highlighted more than a year ago by the Woolf report and about which (the) ICC has done nothing in the intervening period,” Smith said.
Smith also said referring to the influence being merely “lobbying” in the voting process was misleading as “there should be a very clear distinction made between a candidate lobbying for a vote and an employer threatening an employee to change their vote.”
On calling for a full and independent investigation of the vote, FICA president Adams was scathing in his criticism of cricket's top body, saying “executives have stood aside while apparently watching their own process corrupted by their own board members.”
“In the meantime, (the) ICC constantly tells the world it has a 'zero tolerance' approach to corruption in cricket and constantly tries to impress the 'Spirit of Cricket' on participants,” Adams said.
“How can the players of the world look to (the) ICC for leadership in these circumstances and how does the spirit of cricket apply to the organization itself? Board members didn't like how their captains intended to vote, so they apparently ordered them to change that vote.”