Dubai: It’s been a week that Greg Barclay had taken over as the new chairman of International Cricket Council (ICC), and the 59-year-old Auckland commercial lawyer has given enough indications that he could be his own man.
There could have been quite a few eyebrows raised when right in the middle of the first-ever World Test Championship, he has questioned if the model is ‘‘fit for the purpose.’’ A few days back, Barclay had openly criticised the idea of Big Three of India, England and Australia wresting control over the game and walking away with all the major events - though he added at the same breath that India were a sligthly ‘‘different case.’’
It took the world governing body nearly five months to find a successor to Shashank Manohar, who stepped down from July 1 after two terms. Imran Khawaja, the interim chairman who was a trusted lieutanent to Manohar as his vice-chairman, was also in the fray but could not produce much of a competition to Barclay - a much heavyweight candidate who had been a director of New Zealand Cricket (NZC) since 2012.
He was also a director of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2015 and is a former board member and chairman of the Northern Districts Cricket Association. Barclay is also an experienced company director holding board positions with various New Zealand and Australian companies.
Speaking to a selected gathering of international agencies, Barclay said: “Covid has probably highlighted some of the shortcomings we have got with the World Test Championship. From an idealistic point of view, it probably had a lot of merit but I do just query in a practical sense whether it’s actually achieved what it was intended to do.
“Let’s get through the next little bit, do what we can taking into account Covid and the ability to reallocate points or whatever, but my personal view is once we’ve done that we’re probably back to the drawing board. I’m just not quite sure it’s entirely fit for purpose and perhaps has achieved what we might have hoped it would when it was first conceptualised four or five years ago.
Interestingly enough, Barclay’s ‘soft stance’ towards India is a departure of sorts from his predecessor Manohar, and a lot will depend on how much of an effective synergy he can build up with world’s richest board. “They (England and Australia) get the same amount of [ICC events] money as everyone else and that’s never really been an issue. India are a slightly different case, they’re a huge cricketing force, we need to have them in the tent and with 1.3 billion people and the stuff they do around cricket, I think we just need to address some of their issues differently. There are a lot of positives to come out of what they do as well as any perceived negatives,” he noted in one of the recent interviews.
Barclay also tried to make the right noises on women’s cricket: “There is a glaring gap between where the men’s game is and where the women’s game sits at the minute.”
“It’s improving but we haven’t come nearly far enough. It’s not just financial investment, it’s behavioural and attitudinal changes that need to be made. We need to to invest a lot more in women’s cricket,’’ he added.