NEW DELHI: India’s Shashank Manohar was elected International Cricket Council chairman Thursday after championing reforms to ensure the governing body is not run simply for the benefit of its most powerful nations.
Days after quitting India’s board, Manohar was unanimously chosen as the first “independent” ICC chairman following reforms designed to ensure the incumbent no longer feels obliged to promote his own country’s interests.
“It is an honour to be elected as the chairman of the International Cricket Council and for that I am thankful to all the ICC directors who have put their faith and trust in my abilities,” Manohar said in a statement after the election at a meeting in Dubai.
“I look forward to working with all stakeholders to shape the future of cricket, which has a proud history and rich tradition.”
Manohar had been serving as head of the ICC in his role as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in line with the organisation’s previous system of rotating chairmanships.
But under reforms that he himself helped draw up and implement, the ICC has amended its constitution to bring in direct elections for the position which will now be officially an independent post.
The 58-year-old Manohar had resigned as BCCI president on Tuesday in a move that freed him up to run for the ICC chairmanship, and his election had been widely predicted.
In an interview published after his resignation from the BCCI, Manohar said it was important to avoid “a conflict of interest”.
“As BCCI’s nominee, am I not duty-bound to fight for our cause? On the other hand, as ICC chairman, I am expected to protect its interests,” he told The Times of India.
“That’s why I have proposed that the post of the ICC chairman should be made independent and it has been accepted unanimously,” he added in an interview published Wednesday.
Manohar has been critical of recent ICC rule changes designed to give greater power to India, England and Australia, saying the game’s three most powerful countries appeared to be “bullying” the organisation.
The veteran Indian sports journalist Ayaz Memon said that Manohar should now be freer to push for reforms without having to look over his shoulder.
“It’s a positive move in a way that now the chairman will not be linked to a particular board, therefore that nexus is not seen as something which is unhealthy,” Memon told AFP.
“Having an independent chairman is a better situation than when a chairman is president of a board. With an independent chairman, you get an independent point of view and independent perspective.”
Since India’s emergence as the most powerful country in world cricket, the ICC has often been accused of failing to exert its independence on key issues of governance.
Many of the game’s smaller Test-playing nations have been accused of bending to India’s demands in the ICC, desperate to attract tours by India which can ensure their financial security by selling TV rights.
Some commentators have criticised the ICC for not doing more to protect Test cricket as players opt instead to play in lucrative domestic Twenty20 competitions, in particular the Indian Premier League (IPL).
IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla was among the first administrators to offer Manohar his best wishes.
“We are all proud of the fact that an Indian is now holding the first independent position in the world governing body,” Shukla told AFP.
In its statement, the ICC said Manohar had been the sole nominee for the position and was “unanimously elected” for a two-year term.
Under the new reforms, the largely ceremonial position of ICC president has now been scrapped.
“Mr. Shashank Manohar’s unanimous, unopposed election is a matter of pride for India,” BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said in a statement.
“With his vast administrative experience he will provide leadership to the ICC to strengthen the position of cricket at the global level.
“The BCCI looks forward to working closely with the ICC for developing cricket.”
Manohar, who is a successful lawyer, had only taken over as BCCI president in October 2015 when he returned for a second stint in the position after the death of veteran administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya.
But he became frustrated after coming under pressure to introduce reforms to the BCCI’s governance recommended by a panel convened by the Supreme Court, including age limits for the organisation’s office-holders.-AFP