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CAN suspension: ICC move ‘bails out’ Nepali cricket of sticky wicket

Kathmandu, April 27, 2016: Is Nepali cricket on a sticky wicket following the International Cricket Council’s decision to suspend the Cricket Association (CAN) of Nepal?

Maybe not. It may rather be a blessing in disguise.

National team skipper Paras Khadka, who has always batted for reforms in cricket governance, says the ICC move could mean a big opportunity for the development of cricket in Nepal.

Citing a leadership vacuum in the cricket governing body of Nepal, the ICC on Monday suspended CAN’s membership.

“In light of the ongoing court case involving the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) and the ad-hoc committee established by Nepal’s National Sports Council (NSC), which has led to a vacuum of cricket leadership in Nepal, the [ICC] Board suspended the membership of CAN for breach of Article 2.9 of the ICC’s Articles of Association, which prohibits government interference and requires free and fair elections,” the ICC said in a statement on Monday.

Nepali cricket was in desperate need of a fresh start, and with Monday’s move, the ICC, cricket’s world governing body, has hinted at a new beginning for cricket in Nepal.

“It is sad that Nepali cricket [governing body] has to face suspension,” said skipper Khadka. “But this is a good opportunity for both the CAN members to sort things out. If we go back to the old system, it is not going to work. We need to start afresh,” Khadka added.

A controversial midnight election held on December 15 initially opened a real can of worms in the CAN. The National Sports Council, which had refused to give legitimacy to a new body formed under Chatur Bahadur Chand through that election, on February 26 decided to form an ad-hoc committee under Ramesh Silwal, thereby creating two parallel bodies for running cricket.

The Chand-led body then moved the court challenging the NSC move, decision on which is still pending, and since then Nepali cricket has been facing crisis.

Viewing the entire episode in Nepal as government interference, the ICC in its statement said on Monday: “Until the CAN becomes free of government interference and is properly structured to begin exploiting the tremendous cricket talent and opportunities that exist in Nepal, the membership of CAN will remain suspended.” The ICC also said that its management “will also now work with the Nepali cricket community, and other stakeholders, in order to assist with the development of a sustainable governance and administration structure for cricket in Nepal.”

Skipper Khadka believes cricket will run systematically under ICC’s supervision. “It’s high time we selected people with accountability in the board,” said Khadka.

The suspension, however, does not mean Nepal cannot play international tournaments.

The biggest setback the Nepali cricket, however, faces with the ICC move is: Nepal will not receive any ICC funding.

The CAN has already lost in excess to one million dollars from the ICC fund due to infighting. As its next step, the ICC’s could form an active cricket body to run the game smoothly.