ICC not just a money making machine: Ehsan Mani

Published: Wednesday, July 5, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Contrary to popular perceptions, ICC is not just a money making machine and every penny earned by the body goes back into the game, asserted its outgoing President Ehsan Mani.

Mr Mani, whose term ends this week, told Cricinfo magazine that ICC maybe a profit-making body, but it's certainly not profit-driven.

''The ICC does raise money from its events and it's very important to do so. I don't know whether people realise but when they hear that we have done a deal for 500-600 million dollar from sponsors, every penny of that is invested back into the game. The ICC doesn't hang onto any of it. We distribute it either back to our members directly or through our development programmes.

''Since I've been involved in the ICC, we've spent over 100 million dollar on the development of the game in associate and affiliated member countries... it sounds like a lot of money but when you see that there are 86 non-Test playing countries whose main source of financial support is through the ICC, divide 100 million by 86 and then by the 8-year cycle we run, it's not much. So I make no apologies for trying to make ICC commercial,'' he said.

''What is important is that we make it efficient not only in raising money properly but also directing it properly,'' the ICC chief added.

In the freewheeling interview, Mr Mani also allayed fears that technology would render the umpires redundant.

''I don't believe umpires will ever get redundant if you look at the use of technology as a way of assisting umpires rather than working against them or undermining them in any way...when you and I sit at home and watch the game on TV, if the broadcaster is able to use technology to show whether the umpire's decision was right or wrong, I believe that undermines the umpire more. It's far better that we try and use the same technology and see if we can assist the umpire,'' he explained.

Mr Mani also felt ICC would have to address a number of issues in the next 5-10 years. ''One is player workloads. That will be terribly important: the game has become very competitive and there is a lot of money coming into it. There is a lot of pressure on the board and the players. Players do benefit from money coming into the game but it is getting that balance right,'' he said.

Besides improving playing standards of the top six associates, Zimbabwe would be another challenge, he felt.

''The good thing about Zimbabwe is that cricket is being played today by more people than ever before within the country. In a society where there is very little relief from political and economic pressures that is a wonderful thing. The challenge there is that Zimbabwe comes back to Test cricket in a structured way,'' he elaborated.

Asked what he considered biggest achievement in his tenure, Mr Mani said, ''When I took over there were a number of issues.

We've touched on the relationship between ICC and its members.

It wasn't only India, there was England and their security concerns with Zimbabwe during the World Cup. But it was to get these relationships back on track and I believe today we have an excellent relationship between the ICC and its members. We all pull in the same direction. Obviously countries have their own interest and will promote them understandably but not at the expense of cricket as a whole.

Security concern about Pakistan was another big issue, he said.

''New Zealand had twice pulled out, once while they were in the country, West Indies and Australia refused to play in Pakistan, both playing in neutral venues and that was no good for Pakistan. That was a huge challenge and the turning point of it was the South Africa tour.

''Once we were able to get that back on track, it also gave the Indians the confidence to tour Pakistan. I think Pakistan had always been willing to play India but there were huge reservations in India, huge perceptions about what they would find if they came to Pakistan. Fortunately, as I always expected, once the crowds turned up they would find that reality was totally different to what they were led to believe...That is a great example of where sport can cut across borders and society, over religion and race and other hang-ups that we have for the overall good of the country,'' he said.

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