Zimbabwe cricket in danger?

HARARE - Zimbabwe's fight to remain as one of the top flight Test-playing nations could be in jeopardy following the surprise resignation of ICC chairperson Shashank Manohar yesterday.

Manohar, the first independent ICC chairperson not affiliated to any board, was elected unopposed in May last year for a two-year term.

In his brief stay at the helm of global cricket, the prominent Indian lawyer spearheaded a drive to undo much of the Big Three’s hegemony on the game.

The Big Three — Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) — had in 2014 swept in new governing structures that had alienated the other Test-playing nations.

The trio had also sought to bring relegation and promotion to Test matches thereby creating a two-tier Test league.

The top ranked sides would play in their own league while the lower ranked side would take on the Associate sides hoping to win promotion to the top tier.

They also proposed scrapping the Future Tours Programme with the Big Three receiving the lion’s share of the ICC revenue.

If these proposals sail through, then Zimbabwe’s chances of staging a bilateral series with England would almost be as good as zero given the current political impasse between the former colonies.

In a letter addressed to the ICC chief executive David Richardson, Manohar said he was stepping down owing to personal reasons.

“I have tried to do my best and have tried to be fair and impartial in deciding matters in the functioning of the Board and in matters related to Member Boards along with the able support of all Directors,” Manohar wrote.

Manohar had become the driving force behind the dismantling of the governance structures created by the Big Three with the ICC last month agreeing to reverse the changes.

A binding decision is supposed to be passed at another ICC meeting next month but with Manohar vacating office it is no longer clear whether these changes will sail through.

Most of the boards voted in favour of the new draft constitution while the BCCI the would-be biggest casualty and stood to lose much of its projected ICC revenues under the new model objected and so did Sri Lanka while Zimbabwe at that point chose to sit on the fence.

“I want the ICC to be reasonable and fair in our approach to all 105 members and the revised constitution and financial model does that. There are still details to work through and concerns to be addressed, but the principle of change is agreed and not for debate,” Manohar said in February.

The resignation of Manohar particularly at a time when the new constitution and other proposals were at an advanced stage might have come as a panacea for Zimbabwe woes that has stood by India at their time of need together with Sri Lanka.

In his absence, it remains to be seen if the next chairman would be bold enough to push for the implementation and adoption of the constitution and a raft of other proposals.

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