England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves has stated the board’s concerns regarding the International Cricket Council’s proposal of events for its next rights cycle (2023-2031).
After the conclusion of the global governing body’s board meeting in Dubai last month, the ICC announced that the eight-year cycle would comprise of eight men’s and women’s events each, with ICC chairman Shasank Manohar saying: “In examining a whole range of options, the Board felt a major Men’s and Women’s event each year will bring consistency to our calendar whilst complementing bilateral cricket, giving our sport a strong future foundation.”
The ongoing cycle (2015-2023) includes six global men’s events, with men’s T20 World Cups to be held in 2020 and 2021, followed by a 50-over World Cup in 2023.
In an email sent by Graves to ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney on Friday, seen by both ESPNcricinfo and Press Trust of India, the former Yorkshire chairman wrote: “ECB is not in a position to support the current proposal for ICC events from 2023-2031.”
Graves explained that the proposal threatened “compromising the time available and thus value and integrity of the bilateral cricket calendar for all member boards”. He also highlighted concern for the welfare of players.
“ECB cannot support a schedule that requires our best players to play more than they currently do,” Graves wrote. “Player welfare is a primary concern to the ECB, and the current proposal requires that international players are likely to have fewer days to prepare and rest. With the growing demands on modern day cricketers, player welfare in terms of both mental and physical wellbeing, should be a concern for ICC as much as it is for Member Boards.”
Graves underlined the importance of Test cricket’s future, “which is crucial to the health of all formats”, and argued that the ICC’s decision threatened to devalue the World Test Championship.
“ECB cannot support a proposal that seeks to play an additional ICC Men’s event in a year where the ICC Men’s World Test Championship is scheduled as it risks devaluing World Test Championship and future health of Test cricket,” Graves wrote.
The Board for Control for Cricket in India have also expressed concerns regarding the ICC’s decision, while Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts, speaking to SEN Radio last month after the ICC’s announcement, said: “The ICC schedule of tournaments is certainly something that is absolutely up for discussion at the moment and will continue in the months ahead.”
Roberts raised the issue of the new schedule’s effects on bilateral cricket, saying: “What we’re really keen to work on with the ICC and what we will be working on with the ICC and other ICC members is what parts of the annual calendar might the ICC events occupy in future, how many days of the calendar does that represent and how do we ensure the bilateral international cricket between ourselves and other nations is really embraced and respected in the process, so we’ve got a healthy balance of World Cups along with international cricket that occurs between World Cups and the space for great domestic leagues like the BBL and the IPL to thrive into the future.”