Million Dollar Test Bonanza for the Seven Second Tier Cricketing NationsNovember 25, 2015
The ICC will pay seven full-member boards $10 million over the next eight years, as part of the Test Cricket Fund announced during last year’s Big Three takeover of cricket’s governing body. Other than the BCCI, ECB and CA, the remaining full-member boards will each receive $1.25 million annually, beginning January 2016. The latest figures indicate that each member receiving the Test Match Fund stands to gain $10 million over eight years. This is less than the figure of $12.5 million over eight years announced by ECB president and ICC executive committee member Giles Clarke in February 2014 as each nation’s Test Cricket Fund package.
The ICC plans to make its first Test Cricket Fund payment of $600,000 in early January, before disbursing another $650,000 to the ‘small seven’ member boards in July. Payments are expected to follow this biannual pattern until 2023. The ICC had originally announced that the Test Cricket Fund aimed to “encourage and support Test match cricket” outside the Big Three nations. As Boards have already entered bilateral touring agreements until 2023, there appears to be limited scope to enhance their Test schedules using the Test Cricket Fund payments.
It appears more likely that the money will be used to underwrite loss-making tours. For example, Sri Lanka Cricket loses money on Test tours featuring all nations except the Big Three and Pakistan. The Test Cricket Fund would help them recover losses from home tours such as the recent visit by West Indies, which is estimated to have cost SLC about $648,000.
The Test Cricket Fund had been among the chief incentives offered to the smaller boards, as the BCCI, ECB and CA sought support for their takeover of the ICC in January and February last year. During that time, Clarke, then ECB’s chairman, had said in an interview with Sky Sports: “The ICC has agreed to establish a Test Match Fund of $12.5 million per country over eight years – available to all except England, India and Australia – which will allow those countries which find Test cricket difficult to sustain economically the opportunity to continue to stage Test matches.”
The ICC has not yet announced the funds’ terms of usage, or how it will hold boards accountable to the objective of encouraging Test cricket.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando