ICC Clobbers Gambino

The International Cricket Council revised or re-interpreted the rules of qualification a matter of weeks before the ICC Trophy tournament in Toronto. This was curious practise for a world governing body for these changes contradicted international law, European community Law and those of many of its member states with reference to nationality. To do this so late was hardly 'fair play' nor within the 'spirit of cricket'.

The reasons advanced for this was that ICC and its Associates Executive were concerned not to repeat the public relations catastrophe of the Kenya ICC Trophy when UAE and its  hired guns won and thus proceeded to the 1996 World Cup.

Vikram Kaul an Indian former Ranji trophy player and member of the Gandhi/Nehru clan working for Sheikh Bukhatir hired a squad of players from the Subcontinent and gave them jobs and residence for five years so as to qualify for the ICC Trophy. The Sheikh wanted a decent local team to match his international class cricket ground and Vikram Kaul did just that. Since then ICC has progressively demanded nationals by birth and acquired passport holders reducing the number of residents.

It was Dr Simone Gambino founder of the Italian Federation and cofounder of the European Cricket Federation that was the instigator of tighter controls on qualifications and a progressive policy of playing  nationals  rather overseas residents in European competitions which was the model which ICC took up for International competitions.

Of course for some at ICC and especially the older Associates Gambino has long been a thorn in the flesh since he is by nature dynamic and innovative as well as political and highly motivated with his vision for Italian Cricket.

What ICC feared most was that Italy would reach the ICC World Cup. Then because the Italian side contained many Italians who were born abroad and had learned their cricket overseas, this, it was felt, would make a mockery of the globalisation policy of ICC and devalue the expensive ICC Trophy.

In addition it is vehemently argued by some that diaspora cricketers will do nothing to develop and promote the game in the country of their nationality. Apart from being illegal this thinking is bonkers.

If one is trying to promote cricket in France does Thierry Pascal, a Frenchman playing club cricket for Reigate Priory in the Surrey Championship make more or less impact on Frenchman and French authorities than Wakefield, Jones, Khan and Jayasuriya. Are Italians less impressed by Di Venuto, Scuderi, Caruso, Verdi, Vettori, Puccini etc playing for Italy than a host of Asians with acquired nationality and others with a residence qualification. Of course not.

ICC argue that nationality by birth means a cricketer must be born in the country of his parents and his nationality. If he was born abroad he does not qualify unless he subsequently does his residence as if a foreigner to qualify.

This immediately deprives anyone with parents working as Diplomats abroad, for International companies anywhere other than home, academics working at overseas universities ie any number of economic migrants working in the hotel, restaurant and other business segments.

On this basis a huge number of current and past Test players would not qualify for their 'country of birth' until such time as they fulfilled residency qualifications - Colin Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Phil Edmunds, Derek Pringle, Alan Lamb, Chris and Robin Smith, Douglas Jardine, George Headley  and more...

The other change is that acquired nationality only applies to foreign immigrants but not diaspora ethnic nationals who exercise their right in adulthood to the nationality of their parents. Not all states allow this but Italy and Ireland are two that do. Israel, of course, gives nationality to any Jew wherever he has come from.

All over the world there are youngsters growing up including those playing cricket who are entitled to two passports. National service often forced the issue at 18 years of age but with decreasing compulsory national service this decision may be put off until 21 or indefinitely.

ICC is flying in the face of the modern global village and the economic mobility within it. Quite why it believes an Italian who learns his cricket in Australia, England, India or Zambia is less qualified to play for Italy than an Indian, Englishman, Australian or Zambian who lives in Italy and may acquire a passport is difficult to understand. The comparison with UAE in Kenya does not hold.

Further to alter the rules so close to the competition was hardly ethical nor very practical but may have been done to pre-empt Gambino,  preventing him from having the time to mount a full legal challenge.

ICC must know it can not win on a legal ruling and it hardly has the clout to compete with the governments of Italy and /or France, both of which are substantial modern states with a hands on interest in sporting success.

There is one reason and one reason alone for this bizarre ruling. A powerful cabal at ICC was out to clobber Gambino. For the moment they have won a significant battle but logic infers they will lose the war.


ICC Trophy Canada 2001