CCA chairman critcises 'an exercise in subterfuge' November 21, 2004

ICC asked to halt 'doomed' constitutional review

Bob Merriman: his role in the review under fire © Getty Images

One of Kenya's most influential organisations, the Coast Cricket Association (CCA), has called on the International Cricket Council to intervene to halt the constitutional review currently being undertaken by the Kenyan Cricket Association.

The review was announced by the KCA in October, and was backed by the ICC, who appointed Bob Merriman, the chairman of Cricket Australia, to oversee the process. But opponents of the board - and there are many - argued from the start that it was little more than a cosmetic exercise aimed at maintaining the current management's control.

In a letter to the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, Samir Inamdar, the CCA's influential chairman, wrote: "Having regard that over 90% of cricket is played in Nairobi and Mombasa, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the KCA national executive have, by using the name of the ICC, embarked on an exercise in subterfuge by hand-picking its own appointees simply to serve their own narrow personal interest without regard to the views and wishes of any of the other stakeholders in Kenya cricket, and such an exercise is clearly doomed to fail." He concluded that the review would deepen hostility between the board and the bulk of stakeholders.

And Inamdar was unhappy that the KCA set up the review and appointed members without any reference to stakeholders. "The composition of this committee appears also to have changed," he told Wisden Cricinfo, "again without any notification."

He continued: "No account appears to have been taken either by the ICC or KCA of the fact that the existing KCA constitution is under scrutiny by the courts, and that at the heart of the dispute between the KCA and its provinces is the question of democracy, transparency and accountability ... all of which are underlying problems which need to be addressed first before launching into a review of this kind."

Inamdar said that a properly constituted review was needed, but not one designed simply to authenticate the KCA's existing structure. The KCA, he added, had recently told him that it would be holding meetings in Mombasa without asking for the input of the CCA, which runs the region. Nor had the views of the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association, Kenya's largest single stakeholder, been sought.

The KCA is embroiled in an ongoing court case with the CCA over its constitution. Sources explained that the announcement of the review was made without any reference to them, and that the general consensus was that it had been instigated for two reasons: one was to bypass the legal process, and the other was to appease the ICC, which had privately been understood to have grown weary with the constant in-fighting.

The main thrust of the opponents' objections stemmed from one simple fact. Given that the constitution being used by the KCA was subject to legal review and is, it is argued, illegal, the board had no right to take such a major review until that fundamental point had been resolved.

They were also deeply unhappy that Merriman's involvement was likely to give the process authenticity. Apart from a brief visit to Nairobi, where he was landed by the KCA with a press conference he was not expecting, Merriman's role was more of an overseer than a hands-on representative.

Inamdar said that Merriman scored an own goal when, in that conference, he "welcomed the formation of this 'independent' body and asked everyone to take careful heed of what happened in Zimbabwe". Said Inamdar: "Many of us here fail to see the connection between our constitutional review and the findings of the ICC's commission of inquiry into the allegations of racism in Zimbabwe cricket. Having made these observations to the local press, Merriman flew out of Nairobi less than 24 hours after his arrival. This committee includes his name as a member. Presumably he will not participate in any active sense, which makes a nonsense of the ICC's stated role in overseeing this review for the betterment of Kenyan cricket."

Speed is understood to have replied to the letter, and has promised to investigate the claims.