ICC quandary over Nepal disturbances
The ICC has dismissed criticism it was too slow to react to the crowd trouble which marred the match between Nepal and USA in Kirtipur in the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 tournament.
In the immediate aftermath of the serious disturbances, Singapore lodged a complaint with the ICC, claiming they and not Nepal should have qualified for the final, and in turn promotion to Division 4 of the tournament. At the time the USA-Nepal match was suspended, Nepal were facing elimination on net run-rate (NRR), but they edged through after USA were set a revised Duckworth-Lewis target which slightly but crucially improved Nepal's NRR and enabled them to squeeze out Singapore.
The ICC was roundly attacked for its seemingly slow response, not announcing an investigation until two days after the end of the tournament, but it has told Cricinfo the process was started in the immediate aftermath of the game.
An ICC spokesperson said the technical committee on duty in Nepal had followed the playing conditions and that at the time the situation regarding NRR could not have been a factor in their decision over the conclusion of the match. Furthermore, Singapore did lodge a complaint with the committee on the evening of the game but at that stage the result could not have been changed.
"The ICC immediately launched an investigation into the security incident on the night of February 26 and followed all ICC protocols on the matter including the filing of report to ICC headquarters," the spokesperson said. "The technical committee also held a meeting the evening of February 26 in regards to security for the following day's matches.
"In regards to the security issue this is being investigated externally following the Rules and Regulations of the ICC. As to the internal investigation that is now being conducted, this was instigated once the ICC Event manager and staff had returned to headquarters and completed a tournament debrief."
The next stage is the findings of the investigation will be delivered to the board who will deliberate what to do when they meet in Dubai in April.
"There are two elements to what the panels can do," the spokesperson said. "As regards the security aspect of the investigation (that goes to the external investigator/commissioner) under ICC Rules and Regulations sanctions can be imposed on a host nation, in this case Nepal, if the commissioner finds that a breach of the rules and regulations.
"As regards the internal investigation, the ICC head of legal, David Becker, will no doubt make recommendations to the ICC board on the panel's findings and these recommendations will be considered by the board."
Nepal have every reason to be worried that their on-field success allied to remarkable crowds which flocked to see them might be undermined by the behaviour of an admittedly significant number of their supporters. Singapore, meanwhile, appear to have the sympathy of many Associate countries, while the USA can rest easy as whatever the outcome, their promotion will stand.
As for the ICC, it is in a difficult position. If it fails to act then there is a danger it sets a precedent for crowds to disrupt matches if doing so will benefit their side. Against that, it will not want to stamp down to heavily on a country where cricket has really taken hold.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa