Monday, March 17, 2008

Imtiaz Patel to succeed Speed as ICC chief

ICC president Ray Mali and the chief executive Malcolm Speed preside over the ICC executive meeting in Dubai...

Imtiaz Patel, chief executive of Supersport, the South African broadcast network, will succeed Malcolm Speed as the ICC's chief executive when he steps down in June. The ICC executive board, which met in Dubai on Monday, also named IS Bindra, the former president of the Indian board, as principal advisor, a new role.

Patel and Bindra were shortlisted by a four-man ICC sub-committee comprising the ICC president, Ray Mali, the president-elect, David Morgan, the Cricket Australia chairman Creagh O'Connor, and the president of the BCCI, Sharad Pawar.

Patel, a South African of Indian origin, is seen as a compromise candidate after concern among other ICC member nations over an Indian stranglehold on world cricket affairs had Bindra become the chief executive. A teacher before becoming development director at the United Cricket Board of SA - the forerunner of the current national body - in 1991, he joined SuperSport in 1999 and rose through the ranks to be its chief executive.

It is understood that the Bindra-Patel arrangement was worked out over the last "two or three days" between the Indian board and other ICC members. The BCCI had initially pushed hard for Bindra and the prospect of an age bar ruling out its candidate saw its president, Sharad Pawar, writing a letter to the ICC pointing out flaws in the argument.

The appointment bypasses concerns over a possible Indian stranglehold with Sharad Pawar in line to take over the top job from Morgan in two years. At the same time, the BCCI will have a key man in the top levels of the ICC keeping a tab on, and influencing, major decisions.

Bindra himself was reportedly not to keen to relocate to, and work in, Dubai on a full-time basis, especially since he is on the governing council of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He recently told Cricinfo that he would also have to take into account his daughter's education, and his position as head of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), the local association for the Mohali franchise.

An ICC official said Bindra will be based in India and will be available to it whenever necessary to provide guidance.

"We are delighted that Imtiaz is the board's choice for the post of the next chief executive," Mali said. "I have no doubt that if he accepts the position he will do a great job."

Morgan, who also takes over his post in June, said: "We are now negotiating the details of Mr Patel's engagement. In anticipation of an early completion to that negotiation, I do look forward to working closely with him during my presidency. These are exciting and busy times for world cricket and I know that Mr Patel will bring his wide range of skills and broad knowledge of the game to the table in a way that will benefit cricket as a whole.

"This has been a rigorous selection process and I am satisfied that we have exhausted every avenue to find the best person for the job. We are now in the process of negotiating the details with Mr Patel before he can be officially appointed."

The BCCI secretary, Niranjan Shah, told Cricinfo Bindra's appointment was "an honour for a major cricket nation like India ... Bindra is a man with great experience in cricket administration and his contribution at the highest level will be valuable."

ICC executive meeting