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A pretty pass

Early reports seem to suggest that Speed’s suspension stems from a fall out with the ICC’s President Ray Mali over the somewhat sticky issue of Zimbabwe, or more precisely the exact whereabouts of the piles of money that the ICC have poured into the ZCU’s coffers.

Speed, it seems, was unhappy with the ICC’s decision to ‘gloss over’ a potentially damning audit of the ZCU’s accounts, expressing his displeasure by refusing to attend a media conference held after the ICC’s last meeting in March.  

And so, in what one can only assume was a fit of pique, Mali and his associates have informed their CEO that he is on paid leave until his contract runs out in July– essentially ending Speed’s tenure with immediate effect.

Now given his former reluctance to deal coherently with Zimbabwe we can only assume that Speed’s current concern’s are not related to the ZCU’s continued failure to govern the game in that desperate country, but are instead focused on ensuring that the likes of Chingoka and Bvute are not allowed to bilk the ICC out of any more of their (hard earned?) cash. 

Whatever the motivation though, Speed’s actions were a breath of fresh air within an organization that has drifted on the winds of political expediency for far too long.
It was a statement of intent that should have been applauded by every true follower of the game. Instead Speed’s (long overdue) act of ‘defiance’ will see him serve out his term, if not disgraced, then certainly reduced. Now for the casual cricket fan this may seem like small potatoes, another minor spat among cricket’s dull, dreary, be-suited administrators. However, for those who follow the global game closely (and by definition the readership of this site must be among those happy few); Speed’s departure may just be the final nail in the coffin. Perhaps it’s just me but I’ve always assumed that, despite the travails that continue to beset the game, cricket will be ok in the end. I’ve clung tightly to the thought that within the corridors of cricketing power older, wiser heads will prevail and that the essential camaraderie that bonds lovers of the game together, whatever their ilk, will come to the fore.
But this latest chapter in the ICC’s murky history has chilled me to the bone.

There are, it would seem, no ‘older, wiser heads’: remember the ICC is now an organization that has identified fraud within its own ranks and blithely chosen to ignore it.

Likewise there is no ‘camaraderie’: the incumbent power block at cricket’s top table have turned on a longtime (if uncharismatic) servant of the game simply to further their own political agendas.

It’s a terrifying state of affairs and one that deserves to be plastered across the front pages of newspapers and websites the world over.

Sadly however, in cricket’s biggest backyard – the subcontinent – Zimbabwe has never really been a ‘hot-button’ issue. Certainly at the moment, with the sixes flying and Bollywood beaming it will be the IPL that garners all the headlines.

However Indian cricket fans (and indeed cricket fans everywhere) should be concerned about Zimbabwe and should be worried about where the ICC’s money is going.

After all it’s a fairly simple equation: you pay a TV company to watch an ICC event, the TV company pays the ICC for the right to show that event and then the ICC doles out the money to cricket boards around the world.

In essence Peter Chingoka et al are defrauding you of your money – a situation that the ICC, in its wisdom, have chosen to ignore. 
One of the major definitions of success in Western capitalist society (and in this I include India’s burgeoning new economy) is money. Did it make money? Yes? Then it must be a success.

Based upon this simple credo the lackeys and cronies that run the ZCU, along with their supporters in the ICC, are immeasurably successful.

But for all that the game is becoming immeasurably poorer.
(Click here to know more about Jim) 

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