The months of speculation are over and the contest for the ICC chairmanship is down to two men: New Zealand Cricket's chairman Greg Barclay and the current interim ICC chairman Imran Khwaja. October 18 was the deadline to file a nomination for the position, and though a number of names were touted in the run-up, it's not clear how many nominations were ultimately filed.
Why does the ICC chairman matter
In the past, the ICC president - as the post was called earlier - used to be a symbolic role, with little power. Now, however, the chairman has far more authority and the post is an independent one. The chairman is no longer allowed to be a member of an individual board while being chairman, and the primary responsibility is to grow the sport and take cricket forward.
Why this election is important
The position was vacated in June by Shashank Manohar, who decided not to seek a third and final term, after being elected as the ICC's inaugural independent chairman in 2016. Manohar was elected unanimously for a second term in 2018 by the ICC Board without an election. This time, though, the ICC Board failed to find a consensus candidate, necessitating the election.
It is an important election because Khwaja and Barclay represent - broadly speaking - the two schools of thought of how international cricket should move ahead. Khwaja is of a camp that believes in an extra ICC event in the calendar, which will benefit those members who depend heavily on ICC revenues. Barclay leans towards the thinking - as do the Big Three - that bilateral cricket is more important and should take precedence over an extra ICC event. Those are two fairly divergent paths and the election will decide which of them cricket embarks upon.
Is there a favourite?
It's difficult to say. Lawyers by profession, both Khwaja and Barclay are vastly experienced administrators and are both known for their balanced opinions. And both are popular on the ICC Board, which is where, ultimately, the votes will be cast.
What do we know about Khwaja?
A former president of the Singapore Cricket Association, Khwaja has sat on the ICC Board since 2008, first as a representative and then as the chair of the Associate Members. In 2017 he was elected as the deputy chairman unanimously by the ICC Board. In June this year the ICC Board once again picked Khwaja to be the interim chairman after Shashank Manohar stepped down. Manohar was the ICC's first independent chairman, elected in 2016.
Khwaja was a staunch Manohar supporter and the pair, along with the support of the majority of the Board, rolled back the Big Three revamp of the ICC, in the process creating a slightly more equitable revenue-distribution model. Khwaja is expected to take forward the vision of the ICC as the more democratic and equitable structure envisioned by Manohar.
Barclay joined the ICC Board in 2014, nominated by NZC as a director. In 2016 he was elected NZC chairman. Quietly spoken like Khwaja, Barclay is well respected among his fellow Board members. In 2019 when Manohar created a working group for reviewing the ICC's governance, Barclay was one of its members (the CA chairman Earl Eddings sat as the head).
In 2016 the NZC, led by Barclay (who is also the chairman of the International Rugby League), voted for the independent structure Manohar wanted the ICC to adopt, which allowed Indra Nooyi, the former Pepsico chair, to be appointed as the first independent woman director on the ICC Board.
Incidentally, NZC had supported the Big Three model in 2014, but that was under the stewardship of Alan Isaac, who was then the ICC president. Barclay said NZC did not need to be ashamed of its change of stance because it was a "pragmatic" decision taken with the commercial aspects of running the game in mind.
How is the voting likely to go?
Barclay has the backing of the Big Three comprising the BCCI, CA and the ECB along with his home board. Khwaja is expected to have the support some of the smaller boards, most notably the PCB, but it is understood the Associates might not support him.
How will the election process work?
As a first step, the ICC's audit committee vets the nominations and declares the eligible contestants. The ICC's directors are each allowed to nominate one candidate and nominees with the support of two or more directors are eligible to contest an election.
The eligible candidates then share their individual manifestos with the ICC Board before the voting begins.
How many votes are there and who can cast them?
Only the current directors who sit on the ICC Board are allowed to vote. That is 17 directors: 12 Full Members, three directors representing the Associates, and the ICC chairman, the ICC chief executive officer (Manu Sawhney) and the independent woman director in Indra Nooyi. The CEO does not have a vote.
Both Barclay and Khawaja can cast a vote as both sit on the ICC Board. But Khwaja can cast just vote, as acting chair of the Associate Members and not as interim ICC Chairman. Hence this election will have 16 votes. That could come down to 15 depending on the status of Cricket South Africa at the time of voting. If CSA is being run by the government at the time, it will not be allowed a vote.
How will the winner be picked?
According to the ICC constitution the voting will need to take place via secret ballot. The winner will need a minimum two-thirds majority, or 11 of the 16 votes (10 if there are 15). A simple majority will not be enough.
There is also the possibility of the voting not taking place at all in case the Board agrees upon one of the contestants as a consensus candidate.
Any other possibility?
In the scenario where there is no consensus and no clear winner after the voting (two-thirds majority), it is understood the ICC Board has agreed that the interim chair - Khwaja - will take charge as chairman for a period determined by the board.