New Delhi: N. Srinivasan, in his new role as ICC chairman has his hands full, especially with cases of match-fixing tarnishing cricket globally. Having himself stepped aside in controversial circumstances as BCCI president, the Tamil Nadu businessman spoke to NDTV on corruption and the steps the Anti-Corruption Unit were taking to eradicate it, of the new revenue model and his own goals at the helm of the governing body.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
NDTV: First of all congratulations
N. Srinivasan: Thank you
NDTV: Now Mr Srinivasan, given all these legal challenges you were facing till the last minute, did you have any concerns at all, that you might face any obstacles before taking over as ICC chief?
N. Srinivasan: Well it's a difficult question to answer, in the sense that it's all over. The attempts that were made by some quarters did not succeed, and the other members of the International Cricket Council, I think, reposed their faith in the BCCI and in me, and as a result the election was unanimous. So, you know, in hindsight, you know, it is difficult now to go back and see what was in my mind at that time.
NDTV: Right, when you say attempts made by some quarters, you mean some of the petitions that were filed in the Supreme Court by those in the cricket fraternity here who are opposing you?
N. Srinivasan: Those who are opposing me, you know it is difficult to define, and I'm at a little bit of a disadvantage because some matters are still there in the court, so I'm not able to speak freely.
NDTV: Mr Srinivasan, the fact is that after you became ICC chief, the newspapers here, across the world, the headline everywhere was, despite the fact that you were asked to step aside from your role as BCC president, you become ICC chief. Now that's not the best way to enter such an important position is it?
N. Srinivasan: Well, look at it the other way. This is what newspapers say. So I cannot fight the media, if that is a perception, the headline, which is given. Even some people said I was barred. But actually I had voluntarily stepped aside. But all these are the things, which had happened. What is important is what you look forward to.
NDTV: Mr Srinivasan, yes and I want to ask you about that. But Mr. Srinivasan when you say the media, it's not really the media is it? It was the Supreme Court that asked you to step aside until the probe is completed.
N. Srinivasan: No, no. You referred to media reports no? I referred to that. I referred to the media reports after the elections. I didn't say anything about the court.
NDTV: Okay, but Mr Srinivasan, you have taken over at a time some would say ironically, when this entire issue of corruption in cricket has taken center stage, the most recent being these allegations of corruption, an admission really, by New Zealand's Lou Vincent, whose been banned for life now, and we've also had a severe penalty being given to Bangladesh's former captain Ashraful, whose been alleged for fixing matches in the Bangladesh version of the IPL. How big a challenge for the ICC is it to tackle what appears to be a fairly repeated and systemic practice of corruption in world cricket, and have they so far failed to do it?
N. Srinivasan: I think, I don't think ICC has failed to do it. In fact ICC has stepped up its vigil. And the most important aspect about is the education programs that are being run constantly before ICC events. I think ICC is taking a lot of efforts to educate people, educate teams as to... on this subject. Also even to the extent to details how approaches can be made, how players should report. And in fact as I understand it, the number of reports that is, players have started to report more. Even the slightest approach is being reported. So I think slowly but surely the efforts of the ICC are paying off. And even the slightest of the approach being made to a player is being reported. The ACSU is being kept informed. And the players in turn are being counseled and educated continuously. So I think that over a period of time, you'll see the efforts of the ICC are considerably successful.
NDTV: No, but when you say education, is that enough? I mean you had this ICC's anti corruption unit now for the past, I think almost fifteen years, what have they achieved so far? Is there a single attempt to crack down corruption, any concrete instance that one can cite?
N. Srinivasan: See you must understand that they are not a police force. The ICC has an anti-corruption unit. It doesn't have the kind of powers that the law enforcement agencies have. But they have understanding with all the police forces, with increasing more and more police forces around the world for exchange of information, so that they can do their job a little better. This is an on-going program.
NDTV: Right now Mr. Srinivasan, you are also in your role, I believe, the head of the anti corruption committee of the ICC, and of the ethics committee as well? What do you think is the main reason for this, what appears to be, a spreading malaise of corruption in cricket?
N. Srinivasan: I'm the chairman of the ICC. I don't recall being made the chairman of the anti-corruption unit.
NDTV: No, the head of the anti corruption committee is what I was told, but ...
N. Srinivasan: The ICC is in the process of adopting a new Code of ethics
NDTV: Okay, no I believed it was the committee, but no my question to you was...
N. Srinivasan: Improving the board of ethics that they have...
NDTV: Okay, the code of ethics needs to be improved
N. Srinivasan: It is a work in progress. You see we already have a code of ethics, which is being updated and strengthened and I think in the next meeting of the ICC Board it will be passed.
NDTV: But what's in your view the reason for these repeated instances of corruption that we are seeing in world cricket?
N. Srinivasan: Well you see I think there have been some instances where the spot fixing has taken place and some instances have been discovered where attempts have been made to fix matches. But if you look at it over all, the number of matches that are being played, it is the opinion of almost everybody, that most of the cricket is very clean. There have been stray incidents. The effort of ICC is to ensure it is 100% clean so that there is no doubt about any incident in even a single match. But with the program which is being put in place for education, with the cooperation which is taking pace with all the police forces around the world, I think it's a matter of time before that will happen.
NDTV: But when you try to describe these as stray incidents Mr Srinivasan, isn't it that you are you trying to brush this under the carpet? Because you've now had instances surface in New Zealand, a New Zealand player has come forward that he was involved in match fixing. You've had Bangladesh. You've had the entire controversy recently in India with the IPL. Pakistani players have been found guilty. It seems fairly wide spread.
N. Srinivasan: But Sreenivasan please understand, look at the volume of cricket that is being played. I'm not trying to brush anything aside. I'm a person that (believes) we should not have even one incident. That is how I look at it. But cricket is being played all over the globe. You see there are times when you have 2-3 series taking place at the same time. The amount of policing that is done, the amount of work that is being done by the ACSU is quite significant. And in-spite of that some instances have taken place. But more and more players are reporting the slightest of approach and I think that is the good news
NDTV: Okay, now Mr Srinivasan let's now talk about this new revamped ICC, where essentially it appears that the major powers are going to be concentrated in the hands of just three countries, which are India, Australia and England. This is a significant break from the past. Now, some have questioned this, that is this too much power in just the hands of a few countries, at the cost of the others?
N. Srinivasan: Well for most of the times, for almost 70 years, 2 countries, England and Australia, had a veto. It's only in the late '90's that changed and the impression that power is invested in 3 countries is not quite correct. The 3 countries I think are taking greater responsibilities. The only difference from the past is that, in the 2 committees i.e. the Executive and the Finance committees, India, Australia and England are the members. But there are others also who are members and the chairmanship is also to be elected. It is only that the first chairman of the FNC is from England, the first Chairman of the ExCo is from Australia and the first Chairman of the ICC is from India. But after that it is for the members to elect. So I don't quite accept and it is not fair to say that
NDTV: But the fact is that the top post is only going to be rotated between these three countries, isn't it?
N. Srinivasan: No, it's not so. That is where you are mistaken. It is only in the first instance for the first term that these people occupy the post, after that the members have to elect.
NDTV: Okay, but you made an interesting point. You said so far it's virtually been the hegemony of England and Australia, but India has finally broken through that barrier as it were, and has now also got a seat at the table. Is this a reflection of the tremendous clout that India today wields in world cricket?
N. Srinivasan: I didn't say hegemony. But the fact was that there was veto and then it changed and now nobody has a veto in that sense anymore. One has to recognize the contribution of the India to the economy of world cricket. You can't brush that aside
NDTV: That's something I actually believe was reflected in a position paper that was circulated, about how now money is going to be shared between all the ICC countries. Earlier it was equally carved up between what are known as the full members, but now the revenues, a bulk of the revenues, are going to come to the three countries isn't it, to India, Australia, and England, because of the fact that you said these are the big revenue earners? Or India particularly, is the biggest revenue earner.
N. Srinivasan: Actually it is a fact that India contributes most of the, a very significant part of revenue. In this new model 2015-2023...
NDTV: Isn't it around 80%?
N. Srinivasan: Around 75-80%. However with this model going forward all countries will get more than they got in the last cycle. This is the expectation. India will get a little bit more, recognising the contribution India is making. I don't think there is anything wrong in that.
NDTV: No of course not. It is not, at least certainly not my case whether it is a question of right or wrong. But could you quantify that in percentage terms, how much more money is India going to get from the ICC pie?
N. Srinivasan: I think India will get about 20 odd % compared to the 3-4 % we were getting earlier.
NDTV: That's a big jump
N. Srinivasan: Look at the contribution India got...
NDTV: So there is no comparison.
N. Srinivasan: Yes, India contributes 75-80% that is the expectation. The correct way to look at it is that there is recognition of India's contribution. And India is not taking all that it brings to the table. India is being very fair and I think the perception has to change
NDTV: You're saying India contributes 80%, but will only get an additional 20%. Okay, but Mr Srinivasan how did you persuade some of the other countries that had reservations about this new regime in the ICC? Pakistan has gone public with its discontent; Sri Lanka was said to be upset; there were rumblings in South Africa as well, how did these countries come around?
N. Srinivasan: I don't know to what extent the reports of rumblings, discontent etc were actually factual. When this was discussed....
NDTV: There are statements on record by Sri Lanka, by Pakistan, saying this was concentrating too much power in the hands of too few
N. Srinivasan: This is a change from the past. But ultimately when they studied it, everybody understood that it was for everyone and everyone felt it was good for cricket and that is how it got accepted by everybody. And you must understand that when something new or something different is proposed it will take a little time for everyone to accept it. The first reaction need not be the final conclusion. So there may have been some initial reactions, and as they went through them, studied them, they possibly understood that is was quite fair.
NDTV: Fair enough
NDTV: Now the fact is, where scheduling of tournaments is concerned, that this is again something you can clarify, my understanding is that the three countries, the big three now that control the ICC, will pretty much get to determine who they play and when they play, yes?
N. Srinivasan: I'm sorry no. You see one of the advantages of this new structure is that the FTP has been defined very clearly. Now all the countries over this 8-year cycle, when they are playing home, and all this is guaranteed, these tours will take place. So as a result of which they can plan their revenue better, they can sell their rights better.
NDTV: The FTP is a playing schedule?
N. Srinivasan: The future tour programs. And as far as the ICC events are concerned, see there is no uncertainty about future tour programs. All countries are quite clear, and the programs have been finalised. Not only that the ICC events also have also been finalised. So India actually is going to get 3 events. India in 2016 is going to get the T-20 World Cup; in 2021 is going to get the Championship Trophy and in 2023 the ICC World Cup. So during this cycle of 8 years we will get 3 world events from each variety.
NDTV: That's a good deal for India
N. Srinivasan: It is a good deal. See if you look back you'll see we used to get a World Cup or any world event once in 15-20 years. Now in the 8-year cycle you're getting one of each
NDTV: Mr. Srinivasan if there are one or two big changes that you would like to bring it world cricket, whether formats, anything, what would that be?
N. Srinivasan: See not so much in format. I think you started it right. I think the emphasis should be on ensuring that there is no doubt about even a single game played anywhere. I think that is the responsibility we have and steps are being taken in that direction.
NDTV: But on that point, would you concede that the image of cricket, because of everything that's happened, has taken a dent?
N. Srinivasan: See these instances, which have been come to light, naturally they are not only for cricket, but for any sport, that happens, you can say a dent is there. What are we trying to do? Are we tackling it? Are we taking steps? Are we putting in our best efforts? Answer is yes. Second thing that I'd like to say is that a lot of emphasis is today being placed on development of cricket. Cricket is spread through out the world. 106 countries are there; associates, affiliates, full members of the ICC. Cricket is being played at various skill levels in all these places. There are some countries, which are climbing the ladder faster. And I think they have to be encouraged. We have to develop cricket. We have to see more competition in cricket. And I think that is very, very important, and going forward that will be an area which we will emphasis.
NDTV: No, but Mr. Srinivasan, the first point you made, which you said would be your priority, which is to clean up cricket, to ensure these repeated allegations don't surface. And I come back to what I asked you in the beginning; doesn't this place you in a difficult position, because here you are already facing a probe which has been ordered by the Supreme Court into all these allegations of what happened in the IPL?
N. Srinivasan: Be careful, no please be careful, cautious with what you say because....
NDTV: Isn't the Mudgal Committee, which is probing what happened in the IPL that encompasses the entire set up including you....
N. Srinivasan: The Mudgal Committee in its main, Sreenivasan please understand that you're asking a question for which I am handicapped in answering, but let this report come. After that I will reply to this question, because you've taken a little bit of an unfair advantage on me over this
NDTV: No, It's not an unfair advantage
N. Srinivasan: Because I'm constrained in how I can answer it. But I will say one thing, that to my conscience I have not done anything that will tarnish the game, bring disrepute, or done anything wrong, and I do hope that this will come out clearly, and after this I wish we have this discussion again.
NDTV: No, Mr Srinivasan that's an important point you're reaffirming, this is something you told me earlier as well. You stand by the fact that you've not done anything wrong,
N. Srinivasan: To my conscience as I say it. But again something which is before the court, I don't want to say anything more, I shall be very happy after this is all over to have this discussion with you all over again
NDTV: I only put this to you, not to drag you through the allegations, but does it pose somewhat of a conflict of interest to you that, as you attempt to clean up world cricket there continues to remain the shadow of these allegations and this probe?
N. Srinivasan: I did not use the word 'clean up cricket'. You started it, so I said that's important, that is how I've phrased it. I have not said that I'm going to clean up cricket, meaning, implying thereby that cricket is dirty, or a lot of cleaning up needs to be done. Some instances have come to our notice, we are taking steps, and I think the ICC is very pro active on it. That's how I'd like to leave it.
NDTV: The conflict of interest aspect?
N. Srinivasan: What conflict of interest? This is now for many years, you are now beginning to sound like (former BCCI president) Mr (AC) Muthiah.
NDTV: That's a very unfair comparison Mr Srinivasan, I think that's really not the case at all
N. Srinivasan: But you've used him on your channel sufficiently, so why can't I. Anyway...
NDTV: Mr Srinivasan so you believe that there are these issues before the ICC that you will tackle them as a priority, and also, Mr Srinivasan, as far as the BCCI is concerned, which is now running with this interim arrangement, do you believe that that arrangement is working out alright?
N. Srinivasan: I can't comment on all these things you know
NDTV: You've completely disassociated yourself from the running of the BCCI, you've...
N. Srinivasan: Let all these things come to a conclusion, then I'll have this interview with you again
NDTV: No, these are not about the charges, I was just simply asking whether you've completely de-linked yourself from the running of the BCCI, and you're focusing right now only on the ICC?
N. Srinivasan: I said that I stepped aside, which I have actually, so after that I don't go back inside and poke my nose
NDTV: Alright Mr Srinivasan, thank you very much indeed for talking to us, and taking all our questions so extensively on what is certainly going to be a very challenging time for you. We wish you all the best in your new role, thanks very much Sir.
N. Srinivasan: Thank you very much, thank you, bye