Thailand November 23, 2007

Thailand board fails accountability test

It's a year since the Cricket Association of Thailand held its last election

It's a year since the Cricket Association of Thailand held its last election. In the intervening period Thai cricket has been blighted by an internal dispute which has done serious harm to the standing of the game both inside and outside the country.

On November 9, 2006 the CAT's AGM took place in Bangkok. When it came to election of officers, there were two candidates for chairman. One was Ravi Seghal, the incumbent, the other was Vaughan McClear, an Australian national and a long standing vice president and adminstrator. A secret ballot of the 13 constituent clubs was held and McClear emerged the winner by eight votes to five. It was not an unexpected result as Sehgal's methods were not universally popular. The rest of the meeting proceeded normally and after less than two hours the AGM concluded.

But Seghal was not prepared to go quietly. On November 14 the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) sent a letter to the Asian Cricket Council in which it advised that it had appointed a brand new committee to run the CAT. It was ostensibly a purge of all foreign nationals, which included McClear. His replacement as chairman was Seghal. It later emerged that this committee had been appointed six weeks earlier but nobody had seen fit to mention it.

Everyone was astounded. At no stage in the past had this been raised as an issue, but within days of Sehgal's ousting the SAT had stepped in. What's more, the ACC seemed eager to accept what they had been told. McClear was sent a remarkable email by the ACC's chief executive Syed Ashraful Huq in which he signed off: "We sincerely hope that you will continue to help and support the development of cricket in Thailand as you have done so admirably and actively in the past."

The issues were twofold. One was that not only had the democratic process been completely ignored - there was not even a question of there being a fresh election with Thai-only candidates - but also that many of those on the SAT list had few or no cricket credentials.

McClear and those who backed him tried to find a compromise solution but the SAT backed Seghal to the hilt, as did Huq. His committee were all from one club - Seghal's - and what angered people more was that letters, which critics insist were back-dated, were produced to back Seghal's position. What those letters stated was that the president of the CAT had to be a Thai national. That was of little consequence as McClear was not standing for that post. But what it did was to allow the president - General Suebsant Trantranont - to appoint his own board.

What was of real concern was why Seghal had not mentioned any of this before the meeting on November 9. It appears that he had hoped to win the election, but when he did not then he resorted to his back-up plan. Quite why the ACC was so eager to support Seghal was equally strange.

One stakeholder told Cricinfo: "No one knows 99% of the people on the new committee, and this committee knows nothing about cricket or cricket in Thailand . They are not even a real committee since they have been shoe-horned into existence."

So what has Sehgal's band of brothers done in the last year. The answer is not much other than to try to eliminate all opposition. His version of the CAT decided that it did not want McClear running the local cricket league, and so it launched with a new league and have took steps to seize control of all the cricket grounds in Bangkok so that McClear could not run the Bangkok Cricket League as there were no available venues.

To do this it entered a contract with Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) for control of its ground. The CAT is paying AIT a monthly fee and in return the institute is supposed to provide groundsmen to maintain the facility. But the turf wicket built by the CAT at AIT is completely useless, and has been since last January when all maintenance was stopped. The artificial wicket that was paid for by the local league teams is still in good order and was used extensively last season.

It is estimated the CAT receives around US$130,000 from the ICC and ACC. This money should be spent on the development of cricket for the benefit of all, but how it is actually spent is unclear, and with the committee now an effective closed shop, it is less certain if anyone will be able to find out.

Sehgal counters that he has been running cricket in Thailand for over 20 years now, and he has done a fantastic job, so he should keep going. The reality is that there are now fewer people playing, fewer grounds, no sponsors, and the national team goes from bad to worse. There is also the fact that he appears to have taken charge in what amounts to a coup and to be running a completely undemocratic body. The website has been taken down and emails go unanswered.

The ACC is unlikely to do anything as it has a friendly, some might say too cosy, relationship with Seghal. The only hope the stakeholders have is that the ICC might sit up and take notice, as it has done in the USA where another dysfunctional board is in place. Until then, Seghal appears set to carry on regardless.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on August 21, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Hello everybody, I saw this site recently and I think it is time for me to say something. I'm attracted to your topics here. Thanks for the strory here. C ya around

  • testli5504537 on May 10, 2008, 10:41 GMT

    Mr.Watcher, keep watching.There has been a good season of cricket here in Bangkok organized and run by BCL without much publicity around.Semi finals and Finals will take place in next week.Thanks to all the participant teams and good management.Coming back to the committee ,not sure what is going on??? If you find any cricket committee here,please post the address for every one.At this moment cricket is growing in an orphanage and will grow slower than an Ant's pace.

  • testli5504537 on April 24, 2008, 18:30 GMT

    So are we to believe, that whilst the shenanigans have gone quiet (because people have been threatened against speaking out), that cricket is going anywhere in Thailand under the present management?

    Until all of you decide that it should be better, nothing will change, or are we to put up with distribution of medals at U13 games as being seen as an achievement for Thai cricket as a whole?

  • testli5504537 on April 7, 2008, 6:37 GMT

    Elections? Progress? Development? Co-ordination? Association? Turf wickets? Annual reports? Funds? Freedom of speech and expression? What does that all mentioned mean to guys here??

    Forget it folks! Enjoy yourself. Happy Songkran. Go and watch Hua Hin 6's after successful Chiangmai 6's. If it is not enough then go to Phuket and watch some action there. Take care.

  • testli5504537 on April 2, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    As per the constitution, it is due in November 2008 but we all know that it will not be held and the same old crocs will stay in power. It has been 18 months since Mr Sehgal was beaten and refused to step aside and what has happened since? Nothing. AIT is a turf wicket but has never been used apart from some age tournaments. The local league still plays on the astro wicket. No website, no transperancy and the word out there is that the CAT is not even registered with the Sports Authority thus making their associate membership to the ICC a cover up.....has anyone seen the original documents?? Where is the annual report and annual accounts that should be put out for review by the regions / rest of the country. The only thing being sent out are letters threatening legal action against those who write on freedom of speech blogs.

  • testli5504537 on March 4, 2008, 14:57 GMT

    So when or if is the next vote for president?

  • testli5504537 on December 29, 2007, 14:12 GMT

    Happy New Year to all the cricketers in Thailand . Lets all hope that while you guys in Bangkok enjoy the local league run by a group of dedicated people who want to see cricket move forward in Thailand, that possibly the 5-6 people on the CAT Committee make a new years resolution to step aside and let those who want to do good, do good in 2008...I am sure the present Chairman (unelected!)can see the sense in this and relieve some pressure from himself and his peers??.

    Watch out for the eye of the storm?

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2007, 8:56 GMT

    Missing the point here everyone.

    An election was held on fair ground, a fair vote was cast and a fair decision was made. This all has got to do about somebody not being fair...not about who plays cricket and where it is played and who runs it and who supports it!!

    Back on track guys - the CAT committee is self elected, deceitful and a farce.Headed up by a defeated chairman who refuses to step away and is backed by corrupt powers above. Sorry, that is the fair truth.

  • testli5504537 on December 8, 2007, 4:56 GMT

    Hi Peter, I and BCL is not selfish to play the league in Bangkok.Rest of Thailand have their own leagues and if they have problems then they should come up.Do they need advocates? Thailand is not cricket playing Nation and in any developing country there are a lot of problems.Change is the law of nature and changes take time and for any adjustments think tanks are very important. So lets be positive.Cricket will grow here. If you were given a chance to speak one sentence about some one,what would you speak??Good or bad?Sure bad words would make you enemies and bring hatred for you where as good words will bring you appreciations.Please think before you speak or write.I must agree that you did write good words in your last comments. We have played together and have had good understanding.You know about my passion for cricket.I respect every one around and really do not care about ethenic differences. We are working hard to stand and work for development of cricket in Thailand.Harry

  • testli5504537 on December 7, 2007, 13:40 GMT

    Mr Peter, agree with you but here is another choice to Mr CAT Committee........Stand Down and let others do something worthwhile for cricket and not themselves such as what has been happening in the past many years.

    The ACC, CAT, are a disgrace to the name of cricket. Just a few rotten apples spoil the whole basket hey?

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