CHENNAI: With Shashank Manohar stepping aside in June as the chairman of International Cricket Council (ICC), former England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief Colin Graves is the frontrunner to the job. But he will face a strong challenge from current deputy chairman Imran Khawaja of Singapore, who enjoys considerable clout in the world body.
Whoever gets elected will have a dominant say in deciding which way the ICC heads. Graves is inclined to bringing back the Big Three model, while Khawaja has long advocated for a more diverse representation.
Though the BCCI is understood to have made efforts over the last couple of months to get one of their own in that seat, they haven’t found enough backing yet. If it comes to choosing between Graves and Khawaja, they will support the former. Graves stood a chance of replacing Manohar when he handed his resignation in 2017. But now, he is a prime contender to be the third ICC chairman after N Srinivasan and Manohar. Apart from BCCI, Graves is understood to have the support of Cricket Australia, ECB, Pakistan Cricket Board, New Zealand Cricket.
But there are reservations against his candidature among other members, as they believe his election will once again make BCCI, ECB and CA the power centres. Khawaja wouldn’t have stood a chance in the previous set-up. But after the structural change introduced by Manohar which gives voting rights to Associate Member directors of Singapore, Malaysia, Scotland to go with 12 Test-playing nations and independent director Indra Nooyi, the number of votes is 17. It is understood that Khawaja enjoys considerable support among the other boards, as he is one of those pushing for the inclusion of more ICC events in the 2023-31 cycle that will give the member boards more revenue.
In ICC circles, Khawaja is seen more as a hands-on administrator. Considering how closely he worked with Manohar to reconstitute the ICC which has brought in more members into the decision-making group, they believe he offers continuity. And his election is key if Associate Members are to be involved in the working group, especially with the coming months set to decide on key issues like the calendar. Graves, on the other hand, has made his intentions clear with regards to the Future Tours Programme. Among those pushing for the inclusion of four-day Tests, he also opposes the move to have more ICC events. This has also won him friends, notably the BCCI. Since the new BCCI regime took charge, they have made efforts to regain their place of prominence in ICC and held discussions with Graves on changing the revenue share model.