Melbourne – Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani is potentially set to go head-to-head with the incumbent Greg Barclay in the ICC chairman election scheduled for next weekend.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that Mukuhlani, who has been on the ICC board for a long time as the ZC representative, has declared his intention to enter the contest – subject to his getting enough support from the smaller Full Member countries as well as the Associates.
ESPNcricinfo recently reported that Imran Khwaja, the ICC deputy chair, was going to stand, but he is believed to have withdrawn.
Khwaja suffered a fractious defeat in the 2020 elections against Barclay. Back then, Barclay secured influential support from the BCCI which paved the way for the New Zealander to win by 11 votes to five, in what turned out to be a two-round contest.
In July this year, after the ICC annual general meeting, Barclay declared he was ready to contest for a second two-year term.
Barclay is believed to be bullish about his prospects, especially as election rules have been tweaked with the winner to be decided on the basis of a simple majority. In 2020 the winning candidate needed a two-third majority from the 16-strong ballot. The 16 votes are from the ICC board of 12 Full Members, one independent director (Indra Nooyi) and three Associate directors which includes Khwaja.
Khwaja had received six votes in the first round two years ago, but Cricket South Africa’s vote in the second round tipped the contest in Barclay’s direction. Once beaten, twice shy, Khwaja, one of the most experienced directors on the board, weighed his options and eventually decided not to contest this time, despite having got the mandatory one vote to get nominated.
While it could not be confirmed on October 20, the nomination deadline day, Mukuhlani, too, had been proposed by one of the ICC directors. And now he has the second vote, enough to support a nomination. While he is keen to fight the elections, Mukuhlani will likely take a final call in the next week once he senses the kind of support he could expect.
Mukuhlani is part of the ICC’s Audit Committee and chair of the Membership Committee. He is also part of the global body’s Olympics working group, which is tasked with pushing for cricket’s entry in the Summer Games.
Popularly known as ‘Doc’ in ICC circles, Mukuhlani believes he has the experience to take over the leadership and become a voice for smaller members and Associates. He is hedging his chances mainly on getting support from a majority of Asian countries except for the BCCI. At the moment, it is believed that the BCCI vote is leaning towards Barclay, but options remain open till election date. The election is planned to take place during the ICC meetings, scheduled on November 12-13 in Melbourne.
Mukuhlani’s manifesto revolves around striving for equity among members and advocating for governance changes. It aligns with the vision Khwaja has had for several years and was to an extent able to put into effect during the four years Shashank Manohar was ICC chairman (2016-20). Both men worked closely to dismantle the Big Three power structure and put in place a fresh financial model where smaller countries received an enhanced share from the ICC revenue pool.
That pot has now grown much bigger after Disney Star* bought ICC broadcast rights for men’s and women’s events between 2024-27. The deal, to broadcast in the India market only, is reportedly worth over US$3 billion, considerably more than what the ICC got in the previous rights cycle (which was for eight years, and globally).
Barclay, too, is drumming up support and is believed to have put a re-look at the financial distribution model as well as modifying the governance model at the forefront of his strategic plan for a second term. Other than looking at enhancing individual countries’ share of the pie, Barclay wants to invest money in strategic funds as well has promotion of women’s cricket.