The election of former Indian leg spinner, and current cricket commentator Laxman Sivaramakrishnan (Siva) to the position of Player Representative on the ICC Cricket Committee has stirred a hornet’s nest for more than one reason. The defeat of the seemingly more qualified incumbent candidate Tim May as much as the alleged backroom politicking by the BCCI to have their candidate elected, and the mere possibility of the demise of the Decision Review System has become the source of consternation amongst cricket fans, media as well as officials.
Firstly, Siva’s role, as it was with Tim May as the Player Representative, is to gather players’ opinions on various matters cricketing, and convey to the 14-member committee rather than voice his own personal opinion. If one were to assume the Siva’s very presence on the committee is to scuttle any promotion of DRS by this sub-committee (as suggested by Neil Manthorp), as he is a BCCI paid commentator and is also an employee of India Cements (owned by BCCI President N. Srinivasan), it doesn’t sound plausible. This committee can only make recommendations and does not hold any power of implementation; Any recommendations made by the ICC Cricket Committee will not take effect until they are ratified and/or approved by CEC and the ICC Board; even with the presence of Ravi Shastri (another TV commentator on BCCI payroll) as media representative on this committee, it has unanimously recommended DRS to the higher committees in the previous years to no avail; Siva’s voice is one of fourteen. A reading of Kartikeya Date’s recent post on the possible impact, or lack thereof, of Siva’s election to the future of DRS could illuminate you more, if you’re so inclined.
Tim May has performed in the role of cricket player representative since 1997, first as the inaugural CEO of the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), and then from 2005-present, as the CEO of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA) and he has been one of the two Player Representatives on the ICC Cricket Committee, along with Kumar Sangakkara. On the surface, May is far more qualified than Siva to be a player representative on the committee but that does not disqualify Siva’s candidacy by any means. Siva as former player, coach and now a commentator has been associated with the game for more than 2 decades. If experience were to be the only criteria for a job, then John McCain a career U.S. Senator should have been the U.S. President in 2009 and not Barack Obama. The fact that Siva is an employee of India Cements for the last 16 years shouldn’t disqualify him from the job either. If that were so, Mark Taylor who has been a commentator on Channel Nine for many years shouldn’t be on the panel either; Same with Ian Bishop (who has now been replaced with Andrew Strauss) and Anil Kumble. In the end, Siva could do a better job than May, or far worse, but that is yet to be seen.
As Tim May himself has said, it is not about who was elected but is about the process. The Player Representative is supposed to be elected through a secret online ballot of the 10 Test Captains. There seem to be two versions of what may have happened.
1) There was an initial vote, and Tim May was elected by a 9-1 over Siva. BCCI then went about “requesting” some national boards to “pressure” their captains to change their votes, which eventually saw Siva win the election 6-4.
2) There was only one voting process**. There wasn’t an initial vote that was later forced to change by BCCI’s pressure. ESPN Cricinfo reported a member of one cricket board whose captain voted for Siva as saying “Suggestions that May had the support of nine captains to start with are completely baseless”.
— Kuldip Lal (@diplal) May 6, 2013
- If this were a secret online ballot, how are the voting patterns public? That in itself negates the idea of “secret” and should nullify the process.
- If BCCI indeed ‘canvassed” for their candidate before the actual voting process, (as in (2) above) then, there isn’t an issue. Democratic election processes see their share of lobbying and canvassing, and as political as the ICC has become, it should be no surprise.
- However, If BCCI had actually intervened after the voting was complete and saw their candidate lose 9-1, then decided to squeeze some of the national boards in to making their captains change their previous selection during the recasting of votes, it is completely unethical and investigation in to the election process that happened ought to be launched. Until that investigation is complete, this election result should be suspended.
It is very possible that version (1) was how everything panned out. Neil Manthorp, who first broke the story on April 30, in this week’s column has mentioned that “Graeme Smith was asked three times to resubmit his vote, and did so — without changing it.”
FICA has indeed expressed that this situation demands an ethics inquiry. Ian Smith, FICA’s legal adviser is reported as saying, “In light of media reports that five ICC full member boards applied direct pressure on their captains to amend their votes in the recent elections, 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.”
Manthorp also indicated that FICA “will be appealing to the ICC and will present evidence of intimidation — provided it can persuade those who changed their votes to step forward and testify. That seems highly unlikely. They believe they have too much to lose.”
I’m not sure FICA has to have the captains who allegedly changed their votes to come forward to indicate the election process was jeopardized. If indeed Graeme Smith was asked to resubmit his vote three times, that itself should indicate that the voting process was compromised.
** – UPDATE: ICC issued a press release saying that there was revote. “In January this year, because of confusion in the voting process for such representatives (for example in respect of what should happen in the case of a tied vote and, where teams had different captains for different formats of the game, which captain should be entitled to vote), the ICC Board considered the matter carefully, and following clarification of the process to be followed, decided that another vote should be taken.”