What were your intentions in setting up the Asian Cricketing Council (ACC)?
For two to three years I have been saying that we have to look after countries wanting to play cricket, so they can come up. The ICC has been in existence for 87 years and they have managed to tot up only nine full members. I thought I must start the ACC council trophy to help regional countries.
You started off with five countries.
Yes, the UAE, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Within four months, seven more joined us. Japan, Brunei, Thailand, Maldives, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Nepal. By July, we will rope in four more. I think it’s a great beginning.
How is the ICC taking it?
We have told them we are not a threat to them. The ACC is just a regional body and the current ACC tournament on in Malaysia is just a demonstration. In fact, Dave Richards, the chief executive of the ICC, in his report said that the ACC was doing a good job for globalising cricket.
How are you helping them take to the sport?
We are giving a subsidy of $12,000 to each team as subsidy. Recently India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka played in Singapore at reduced match fees to generate funds for the ACC. Can you imagine that for the last 20 years Singapore has banned cricket in schools… it was thought to be time-consuming. They didn’t allow it to be telecast too. But during the tournament there, the prime minister promised to make an appearance for five minutes. He stayed on for three hours. The government has also allotted us 15 acres to build a stadium and has started allowing telecast of matches.
How are you planning to contest the ICC ruling which insisted on a two-thirds majority for electing the chairman?
It was a cunning ploy on their part. In all sports bodies in the 36 disciplines currently, a simple majority is enough. Even the ICC rules provide for a simple majority. But we do not want to drag the ICC to court. The BCCI recently met at Vizag and decided not to take the ICC ruling lying down. The BCCI wants to consult lawyers once again.
What exactly did your legal consultant say earlier?
Well, we consulted R.S. Pathak, the former chief justice of India and a judge now in the International Court of Law. Also Michael Bellof, the Queen’s counsel. Both say a simple majority is enough. Bellof went so far as to say that if the matter went to court, it was bound to strike the ICC ruling down. We forwarded this legal opinion to the ICC. Instead, the ICC got their solicitors to hand their own legal opinion and, during the meeting, Walcott gave a paper for everybody to sign, saying the ICC chairman’s ruling will be final.
Why couldn’t you get the West Indies to vote in your favour?
Well, the West Indies are more whites than the whites themselves. But, maybe a lot has to do with the current ICC chairman being West Indian and the dependence of that region on Britain. Out of the nine full members, I got endorsements from four countries and South Africa abstained. If the West Indies had voted for me, South Africa would have gone our way. Out of the 22 associate members, I got the support of 17 and that took my tally of votes to 25. A full member has two votes. But the ICC went and ruled that the support of six full members is necessary. If they had felt I could get the support of six, they would have said seven. The ploy was to stop me.