By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu – Nepal will be able to feature in the T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in 2022 only if they are able to finish among the top two teams in the T20 Global Qualifiers. Nepal are placed in Group A of the qualifiers. Nepal should be focusing on the global qualifiers to be held in Oman in upcoming February. However, Nepal’s preparation for the grand event is just the opposite.
Forget about organizing a national-level T20 tournament as a tune-up for the qualifiers that take place three months later, the Cricket Association of Nepal doesn’t even have time to think about closed camp training, regular series with stronger teams, foreign tours among others issues. The reason for this is the tussle between the cricketers and CAN. The cricket governing body and the players are at odds regarding a note of dissent on grading expressed by Captain Gyanendra Malla, Vice Captain Dipendra Singh Aire, fast bowlder Sompal Kami and Kamal Singh Aire. CAN has sought clarification from the players for expressing their views through a media outlet and the dispute has been lingering on.
CAN was unable to unveil the grade of 2021 and provided six months of salary to the cricketers on the basis of the grading of 2020. CAN managed to finalize the new grading only for the last six months of 2021. However, CAN did not dare to make it public. Although CAN tried its best keep the new grade a secret, it leaked out. Some players publicly denounced the new grading drawing the ire of CAN.
CAN should be the first and foremost to answer the question – If the grading was fair and justifiable why did CAN hesitate to make it public? The situation turned so much worse that four players including the national team captain talked about the issue with media without internal discussion. The issue that began with seeking clarification from the players culminated in talks regarding three-month ban for the players.
Some cricket fans have come down heavily on CAN for the treatment of players while others have suggested it to be more strict to maintain discipline.
What is the crux of the matter?
The issue surfaced earlier in November when Malla, Kami and Aire duo publicly talked about their reservation regarding the grade with the local media. Fast bowler Kami said it was unjust to keep him in Grade B. Kamal Aire was also not happy to fall in Grade C. Skipper Malla and Dipendra Aire were in Grade A. Subsequently, CAN sought clarification from the players on November 11 for speaking against its decision.
The players submitted their clarification on November 16. However, CAN was not satisfied with the players’ answer. The issue didn’t fizzle out. A total of 19 players led by Skipper Malla submitted an 11-point memorandum to CAN seeking clarification regarding the classification of grades on November 21. The issue became more volatile since then. CAN again asked the players for a second time on November 24 to submit their clarification within three days.
A source at CAN said that there was nothing new in the clarification but the same questions that were asked before as CAN was not satisfied with the players’ answer. CAN is in a mood to punish the players in coordination with the International Cricket Council for speaking against the board.
Action depends on board
The probe and recommendation committee of CAN enjoys the prerogative to recommend to the board the right action against the players. CAN has formed a probe committee headed by its acting secretary Prashant Bikram Malla which also includes central committee member Padam Khadka, a member nominated by the National Sports Council, Dharma Raj Giri, cricket manager Binod Das and general manager Raunak Malla. The committee will recommend action against the players to the board. The process of taking action against the players will move ahead after the recommendation gets endorsed by the board.
CAN accuses of defamation
A member of the selection committee says that CAN is unhappy with the players not just for speaking with the media. “Four players including the captain told the media what they shouldn’t have said. We sought clarification from them. Instead, they accused us of neglecting them and making grave mistake,” said the member requesting anonymity.
The CAN official said that they had clearly informed the players about their grade. He argued that nowhere in the world can players speak against the board with the media.
“Speaking with the media is not a big issue though. What unfolded afterwards is the matter of concern. They threatened us with an 11-point ultimatum. This is simply a move to defame CAN. That is the reason why we are preparing to take action.”
CAN further disappointed when the matter reached NSC
While the dispute was still on, a delegation led by CAN member Chumbi Lama which also included Captain Gyanendra Malla met with NSC Member Secretary Tanka Lal Ghising. This further annoyed CAN.
“Players visiting NSC is not right. It should have been the other way round. If there is any dispute, it is CAN that should present the problem to NSC. Players are not allowed to visit NSC in such a manner. They should first seek permission from NSC,” said the CAN member.
‘Our demand was relevant’
Skipper Gyanendra Malla argues that the players were unaware about the grading criteria.
“We had demanded inclusion of players who had featured in tournaments in 2020. I thought this proposal was relevant,” said Gyanendra Malla, adding, “CAN has budget and it can make adjustment.”
As far as the 11-point demand of players is concerned, Malla said the players need to know what kind of grading is it. “It covers issues that range from insurance to allowance. We want assurance that no player is at the receiving end. Why should some players get unfair treatment in allowance provided by the ICC.”
CAN has accused the players of breaching discipline. What kind of action will be taken will be decided by the board meeting in a few days. It is said that there are some people behind all this issue. It is nothing new for some people to fulfil their vested interest by taking advantage of the situation.
Nepali cricket is divided into groups and sub-groups. This is the major problem faced by Nepali cricket. The problem has aggravated as people tend to enjoy the problem instead of resolving it.
Cricket itself is a gentleman’s game. Players cannot be above discipline. CAN is a home to the players. It is wise to settle the dispute within this home. It is not true that the players cannot speak against CAN or talk to the media. But both sides need to go through what has been said and how it has been said. It would not be fair to take action against the players just for expressing their views.
CAN should not hesitate to punish the players if they make mistakes. CAN President Chatur Bahadur Chand has made it clear that they will not compromise on issues related to discipline. However, CAN must first review its working style carefully. It must first amend its mistakes and weaknesses. CAN has courted more controversy than praise in the last two years. The problem seems to have intensified instead of getting resolved. CAN itself needs to improve first. Who shall take action against CAN which is meddling with the future of the players?
The current problem is not a big issue. CAN needs to resolve this issue soon. CAN should not get bothered about such issues when the World Cup qualifiers are just around the corner. Chief coach Pubudu Dassanayake will arrive in Nepal next week. The team should fully focus on Global Qualifiers once he arrives. Dassanayake is expected to maintain unity within the Nepali cricket fraternity. If Nepal gets preoccupied with such disputes, it will have to pay a big price.