Acting president Mali rules out groupism in ICC

Published: Saturday, June 9, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Chennai:International Cricket Council (ICC) acting President Ray Mali, who strongly denied any groupism among the member nations, today said the Twenty20 format of cricket was here to stay.

''The concept will take off well in developing cricket nations,''he said addressing a press conference here. Mali who stepped down as Cricket South Africa (CSA) President said one of ICC's present tasks on hand would be working for the first Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa and the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia in February next year.

''In South Africa, preparations are in full swing for the Twenty20 world cup,'' he said.

The Twenty20 format was immensly popular in South Africa. ''We believe it will stimulate interest in cricket. Back home in South Africa there was a time when grandpas, grandmas would go as a family to watch cricket matches along with their grandsons. The Twenty20 has brought back this interest in the game,'' he said.

''Now the Youth are so keen on it,'' Mali pointed out in strong defence of the concept.

Asked about Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene appealing to the ICC to go slow on promotion of Twenty20 at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) seminar here on Friday, he said ''I respect his views.

But he must first give this format a try in his country and then formulate a view.''

Mali dismissed the view that the limited over format of the game were proving to be detrimental to traditional Test cricket. ''On the contrary Test mathces are producing a definite result these days, thanks to the tall scores being achieved in the ODIs,'' he asserted.

Crammed calendar: He also played down complaints about the ICC calendar being too crammed and that players were getting little rest and sustaining injuries frequently. ''The players are part of the fixtures. They are always consulted as they have representatives speaking for them on the cricket boards of various countries,'' he pointed out.

He said the ICC has not received any complaints on this score so far and added ''if they feel that the fixtures or programmes are not right, the players' representatives can get back to us.'' ''We listen to them and arrive at a consensus'' while drawing up the fixtures, Mali said.

Mali said another immediate task before him (the ICC) was looking after the welfare of the players. ''Players must be kept happy. There has to be unity with them. Players are the main components of cricket and have to be kept satisfied at all times,'' he assured.

Mali, who also assured that he would provide ''postiive and consultative'' leadership, said this must also be decisive for the game to be able to move forward. ''That is what I believe in. I will put it forth in the next 12 months,'' he said.

Answering a question whether he was stressing on positive and consultative functioning of ICC because of differences and discord among its 97 members, Mali said he was only stressing on team work and focus. ''I didn't mean that it was a one man show before this,'' he said.

He said he stressed on being decisive and consultative only to stress the point that decisions should not be postponed. ''If there is a decision to be taken you take it today. Not two days later,'' he observed.

Zimb crisis: Asked about the crisis in Zimbabwe cricket, Mali said the ICC would strive to develop and groom cricketing talent in that country.

''We know there is lot of talent which needs to be nurtured. It is ICC's job'', he added.

He said Zimbabwe opted out of Test cricket on its own.

''They will get back to us in November to decide on returning to Test cricket,'' he said.

Answering a question on the state of West Indies cricket, he said ICC's approach would be similar as with Zimbabwe to shore up cricket in the Caribbeans. ''In a family there may be some weaker children.

They have to be helped along by the stronger ones'', he said, striking a philosophical note.

Asked about the new 'free hit' rule being contemplated by the ICC and whether such rules would only make cricket more batsmen oriented, Mali said the rule would be discussed at the ICC Board meeting on June 29 for a final decision. ''It will come to the Board from the cricket committee. We will analyse it and take a final decision.''


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