COMMENT: ANY GIVEN MONDAY
Dylan Cleaver examines the politics of one of the most important jobs in world sport - and the Kiwi who could be handed the role.
A New Zealander is in prime position to be handed one of the biggest, most politically charged jobs in sport.
Greg Barclay, Straight Outta Gisborne, could find himself elevated to the position of chairman of the International Cricket Council, effectively cricket's most powerful administrator.
The ICC has long been an organisation fuelled by mutual antipathy, geopolitical power (and powerless) blocs and a swirling undercurrent of suspicion, so it wouldn't pay to lay down any money on the outcome but signs are positive.
Barclay, the New Zealand Cricket chairman, may win the role by having the quality most sought after in administrators: Being the least offensive candidate.
That is not the back-handed compliment it appears at first glance. Being able to play the diplomacy game around a table of people used to getting their own way from a vast array of cultures is no easy feat. During his time on various ICC committees, Barclay has proved to be a shrewd operator and efficient network builder behind the laidback bonhomie.
The ICC has yet to even agree on the process by which to replace outgoing chairman Shashank Manohar. In the meantime, Imran Khwaja, the former Singapore Cricket Association president, has been acting in the role but he is not considered a favourite for the role because of the minnow status of the country he represents.
In a you-can't-make-it-up moment, the delay is because the committee needs a two-thirds majority to decide whether the next chairman will be determined by a two-thirds majority or a simple majority.
Once that piece of arcane legislation is passed, the horse trading for the big job will begin in earnest.
Dylan Cleaver: Club rugby in NZ is dying. Here's how to fix it
'Preposterous': Gloves come off in all-Kiwi boxing blockbuster
Dylan Cleaver: Nine things to consider from the past few months of sport
Several seasoned executives (and one greenhorn) have been mentioned in dispatches, but some seem fanciful.
The inexperienced Sourav Ganguly has been touted as a possibility (by South Africa's former captain and current director of cricket Graeme Smith no less), has the most name recognition and is backed by the might and power of the BCCI. Most judges, however, think he'd benefit from taking a watching brief at this early stage of his administrative career before making his move next time.
England's Colin Graves had been seem as the most likely candidate but while the straight-talking Yorkshireman is the personality polar opposite of his public-school predecessor Giles Clarke, they both have a shared trait in that they annoy the hell out of the Asian bloc of voters. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani has echoed the feeling of many of the smaller boards that he doesn't think the new chair should come from any of the "Big Three" boards.
"The politics introduced by Australia, England and India in 2014 to protect their positions – now they are struggling to unwind it because it doesn't suit them any more," Mani told Forbes recently.
"It would be healthier to have someone [the chairperson] not from the 'Big Three'."
By process of elimination that would leave Barclay and West Indies Dave Cameron as the most likely viable candidates. Tipping the scales in Barclay's favour would be the fact Cameron doesn't have unanimous support from his home board, unlike Barclay who has kept most stakeholders of the local game relatively happy, even in a time of huge upheaval in the sport.
If Barclay was to "win" the coveted role, front and centre for any chairman is to crack the code and design a finance model that is deemed fair and equitable by all – not easy when one country, India, is by far and away the biggest money-making engine. The IPL has been such a colossal success, India could in effect operate independently of the ICC and just pick and choose where and when it wanted to tour.
Under an agreement mapped out in 2017, the BCCI was to receive US$405 million out of the ICC's estimated earnings of $2.7 billion for the 2016-23 rights cycle period. The boards of New Zealand, West Indies, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and Sri Lanka would get about $128m, while England would get about $10m more, but all those progressions have been scaled down recently in the wake of global events.
If Barclay was to get the job, he'd follow in the footsteps of Sir Alan Isaac, who had the old role of president from 2012-14, in the days when the position was shared among the full member boards.
In those days the spirit of consensus rarely reigned. There is twice as much money on the table now to fight about.
THE MONDAY LONG READ
Bit of shameless self-promotion on the flimsiest of pretexts but hey, shoot me. In 2018, colleague Mike Scott and I had the pleasure of flying to Northern California to research and film for a feature on New Zealand's best-kept rugby secret, Pat Vincent. While we were there the state was blanketed in smoke as a result of the Paradise wild fire. I was reminded of that watching the pictures emerge from another series of deadly fires on the US west coast. Anyway, here's that story I was talking about.