By Vijay Tagore
It is not official yet but it is confirmed. Imran Khwaja, the 64-year-old lawyer from Singapore, will remain the deputy chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC). He has won a fiercely-fought election.
Khwaja beat Ricky Skerritt of the West Indies by narrowest possible margin — by one vote (9-8). The election, conducted by an independent panel, is believed to have been held earlier this week.
“(I) lost by one vote,” Skerritt told Cricbuzz, refusing to discuss who would or would not have voted for him. “(The) vote was via private ballot. So I have no certainty who voted for whom,” the 62-year Cricket West Indies (CWI) president said. Khwaja, who unsuccessfully contested for the chairman’s position late last year, could not be immediately contacted.
In the highly polarised electoral college of 17 members, it is not immediately known who would have voted for Khwaja, an old ICC hand. “He (Khwaja) has been on the ICC Board for a long time. He knows how to compete politically,” said an ICC board member.
India, Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, Ireland, and chairman (Greg Barclay) are known to be a close knit group in the ICC and they may have voted for Skerritt. Votes from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bangladesh, three associates countries (Bermuda, Malaysia and Singapore) and independent director (Indra Nooyi) are thought to have gone for Khwaja.
The 9-8 verdict is a clear indication of a vertically split board room of the world cricket body. The biggest issue before the ICC is how to go about the FTP in the 2023-31 cycle. The Khwaja group is known to insist on eight global events in eight years while the opposing group, headed by BCCI-led Big Three, has been demanding a fewer global events.