Uncertainty plagues Nepal cricket
The World T20 in March was Nepal's first global event. They finished second behind Bangladesh in the qualifying round, beat Hong Kong and Afghanistan and earned themselves a legion of fans. Last week, they were awarded T20 international status. Between March and June, however, the dominant theme of cricket in Nepal has been one of uncertainty, a result of administrative lags and lack of funds.
Soon after the team returned from Bangladesh, the national team players boycotted a national one-day tournament after a dispute with the board. The impasse was resolved only after the formation of an advisory committee to monitor the development of cricket in the country. One of the members on the advisory committee is Pubudu Dassanayake and his role as coach is at the centre of some more ambiguity in the country.
After the World T20, Cricket Association of Nepal's executive committee had said that Dassanayake would be given a year's extension. However, after the tournament, the board came under investigation from the Commission for Investigation into Abuse of Authority and could not endorse the executive committee's decision. Dassanayake left the country in early June with unresolved issues and his contract with Nepal expired at the end of the month.
Local reports suggest the Nepalese government is planning to intervene to help CAN retain Dassanayake's services but acting general secretary Uttam Karmacharya said the board had not received official word on the matter.
"We have not extended Pubudu's contract," Karmacharya said. "The government may have made an offer but we haven't received anything formally from them. We have also heard of this only through the media. We will discuss the appointment of a coach only after funds start coming in."
Dassanayake also said he had not been contacted. "I have not been contacted by anyone so far except the media," he told ESPNcricinfo through email.
Dassanayake had replaced Roy Dias as Nepal coach in 2011. Under his guidance, Nepal qualified for the World T20s, but missed out on a World Cup 2015 berth. The possibility of his exit prompted national captain Paras Khadka to post a message on Facebook saying he would quit cricket if Dassanayake was not reinstated as coach.
CAN itself is in upheaval. In May, some members of CAN filed a no-confidence motion against its president, Tanka Angbuhang Limbu, after the running of the Nepal Premier League was outsourced to a private sports management firm. In June, 10 members of CAN, including president Angbuhang, vice-president Chatur Bahadur Chand and secretary Ashok Nath Pyakuryal had to give up their posts following CIAA's investigation. CAN vice-president Tarini Bikram Shah was appointed acting president and Karmacharya, who was the manager of the team in Bangladesh, took over as general secretary.
Amid this flux, the financial conditions of the board have not improved. Grants which were due from the ICC and the Asian Cricket Council have not yet materialised because of inefficiencies in the administration and the failure of the board to hire paid professionals in key roles.
According to documents seen by ESPNcricinfo, Nepal has fallen foul of an ICC administration statute, which relates to having a paid full-time administrator. Nepal was one of the five Associate and Affiliate members expected to be warned at the ICC's annual conference last week. The board is currently advertising two positions, for a chief executive and a finance manager, and is also expecting some resolution from the ACC meeting held in Malaysia on Monday, where it was represented by Shah.
Karmacharya was hopeful the ACC and the ICC would help the board in resolving the issue, particularly as Nepal were "trying to fulfil their directive".
"The process of hiring a CEO and a finance manager will not happen overnight. We had invited applicants and the last date for that was June 20. Now we will review the applications, shortlist the candidates and then interview them. The process should take another couple of months," Karmacharya said.
Nepal's next assignments are the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September and the ACC Championship. For them to live up to their new T20I status, however, the board will have to move quickly to put things in order.
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo