Nepali team’s performance masks failures of cricket governing bodyPlayers yet to be paid for T20 tournament with CAN keeping mum in the spot-fixing case.
Nepal T20, the first-ever franchise cricket tournament organised by the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), which it described as a ‘game changer’, ended rather disappointingly earlier this year.
Rocked by match fixing and payment issues, the event ended up putting promising cricketer Mohammad Aadil Alam (Aadil Ansari) and veteran Mehboob Alam behind bars on charges of spot fixing. Nepal Police investigation concluded that six Nepalis and six foreigners were involved in the fixing scam. Ansari and Alam were both released on bail. International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) Anti-Corruption Unit team had even visited Nepal to investigate, but they are yet to release their report.
The six-team tournament was held between December 24, 2022 and January 11, 2023. Players were forced to protest in the middle of the tournament, as they had reportedly not been given the promised pay. The protests even delayed some matches; players from some teams are yet to receive payments.
Despite all this, however, the cricket governing body of the country has remained mum on the matter. Players of Far West United and Kathmandu Knights have only received half their contracted salaries, according to multiple sources the Post talked to.
The Nepal T20 and governance issues at the CAN were largely overshadowed by the sensational on-field success of the national men’s cricket team. In a spectacular turnaround, the team emerged victorious in 11 of their last 12 matches of the ICC World Cup League 2 in February and March, to seal a direct berth for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers taking place from June 18 to July 6 in Zimbabwe. They also earned a berth for the Asia Cup by winning the ACC Premier Cup.
The CAN had leased NepalT20 to the Indian sports management company Seven3Sports for eight years—without an open bidding. As per the agreement, the event was leased at Rs330 million and the company was supposed to give the cricket governing body of Nepal Rs33 million for the first edition. But it paid only Rs22 million in three instalments and later, unilaterally terminated the contract, citing the CAN’s failure to fulfil its promises. The Nepal Police, however, suspected Seven3Sports had a hand in the fixing scam.
CAN executive committee member Mohammad Daud Ansari on June 2 filed a written application to CAN, seeking answers about payment issues of Nepal T20. Addressing the CAN President Chatur Bahadur Chand, he described Nepal T20 as a shame in the history of Nepali cricket.
“The company fled before the end of the tournament and the players are yet to get the match fees,” Ansari wrote. “The cash prize for winners and the player-of-the-match prizes have not been distributed and CAN is also yet to receive the amount as per the contract.”
Urging Chand to make things clear within a week, Ansari added, “What are the initiatives taken by CAN to get the money? The body’s failure to take legal action against the company is also mysterious. I request the president to furnish detailed information about it.”
Ansari claimed that the nomination of the executive committee member Dura Raj Pathak as acting secretary was illegal. He was nominated to the post after former acting secretary Prashant Bikram Malla, also the director of Nepal T20 Governing Council, resigned after the fixing scam.
Ansari also raised questions about transparency while upgrading facilities at the Mulpani grounds, payments at Yellow Pagoda Hotel and the event management contract given to Levin Sports during bilateral and triangular series organised by Nepal.
“I am not much aware about payment to players of Far West United and Kathmandu Knights. I think they have received 50 percent of their salaries from their respective franchises after our initiation,” said CAN president Chand. “Treasurer [Roshan Singh] and Malla [Nepal T20 Governing Council director] know about this.”
CAN treasurer Roshan Singh was not available for comment on the financial issues related to the Nepal T20 tournament or on the other ‘non-transparent’ transactions as claimed by Ansari.
But Malla, who had resigned from the Governing Council, said, “Four franchises have already paid all dues and the remaining two franchises have committed to do so. We are hopeful that they will be paid. The CAN had asked for six months’ time to settle the payment of players from the date of the tournament’s end.”
Regarding the event management fees of bilateral (Nepal-Zimbabwe) and triangular series (Nepal, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea), Malla said that the event was leased to SunBe, a Kathmandu-based event manager, instead of Levin Sports and Rs10 million, almost half the contract amount, had already been received.
“We are in touch with them and they have also asked for a time extension,” Malla said. “We can even drag them to court, but I am optimistic it will be settled in the near future.”
CAN President Chand said that he had written to Seven3Sports on the remainder of the payment and added that should the Indian company ignore them they would seek court’s help as a last resort.
Regarding Ansari’s written application to CAN, Chand said that he had already received the letter. “He published it on social media barely a day after his ultimatum had expired. He should have discussed the matter with us,” said Chand. He also claimed that Pathak’s appointment was valid as per the CAN’s amended statute.