No clarity on Dassanayake's tenure as Nepal coach
Tarini Bikram Shah, the acting president of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), has admitted that things within the board are "in a state of turmoil". The financial state of the board and investigations against a few members has hampered its ability to extend Pubudu Dassanayake's contract as coach of the national side, without a delay, Shah told ESPNcricinfo.
After the World T20, CAN's executive committee had said that Dassanayake would be given a year's extension. After the tournament, however, the board came under investigation by the country's Commission for Investigation into Abuse of Authority and could not endorse the executive committee's decision. According to Shah, Dassanayake had asked for an increase in his salary from $5,000 to $12,000 per month. With the board unable to endorse the changes, due to the ongoing CIAA investigation, CAN extended his contract for three months, with enhanced perks and a bump in salary from $5,000 to $8,000 per month.
The Dassanayake controversy took a new twist on July 22, when a press release announcing Nepal's team for the 17th Asian Games was published, with Arun Aryal and not Dassanayake being named as coach. The Nepal government had itself granted Dassanayake a one-year extension at its own expense on July 1, with CAN not being informed officially about this appointment. CAN's acting general secretary Uttam Karmacharya clarified that a significant reason for Dassanayake being passed over as coach could have been because certain ICC and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) funds are yet to be released. Aryal on the other hand, is already on the Nepal Government's rolls, and CAN's expenses in this regard would therefore be minimal. According to Karmacharya, "Dassanayake can join the team for the Asian Games in South Korea if the Nepal government is able to fly him down in time. However, he cannot be designated as the official coach, and may be part of the team in the capacity of a 'senior coach' or the like".
Nepal's cricket captain, Paras Khadka, however remains unconvinced by the board's claims. Khadka, who had threatened to quit soon after Dassanayake left Nepal said, "If we cannot hold on to a person who has brought us so much success, it means that we cannot hold onto anything that is good. Mr. Pubudu Dassanayake is the reason that we were able to make it to a World Cup and have T20 international status right now. Not only me but most of the team will agree that it was his vision and way of working that allowed us to reach a certain level. There are talks about issues around his payment and other such things, but I don't think any of that was really a problem. People who are running cricket in this country have got to be more serious. Personal grudges cannot be allowed to impact a team."
Dassanayake left the country in early June with unresolved issues, with his extended contract expiring at the end of the month. Shah is unimpressed with the pressure being imposed by players like Khadka. He said: "Nobody needs to talk on behalf of Pubudu. He is capable of speaking for himself". He further added: "Dassanayake was anyway due for a holiday back home in June. Everything is in turmoil right now, so once we are free from other commitments, especially those around the investigation, we will have a board meeting and decide on Dassanayake's contract."
Shah welcomed reports of the Nepalese government extending financial help to the board to bring Dassanayake back at the helm, but refused to commit to a time frame for the appointment. "He will definitely be considered a favourite due to his contributions in the past," Shah said. "No one is in a position to guarantee anything until the investigation is completed and the court passes a verdict. We cannot commit a timeframe for the renewal of his contract because this depends on how the investigation progresses and what the court decides. We welcome the gesture from the government and need this kind of support, which was not forthcoming in the past. We hope this will encourage future commitments."
The Dassanayake tenure is only one part, to use Shah's words, of CAN's "turmoil." CAN has fallen foul of ICC's administration statute 2.1, which relates to having a full-time paid administrator on board. After being given a warning by the ICC at its Melbourne meeting, there appears to be progress on this front as the board has advertised for a chief executive and a finance manager. The board had received about 70 applications for the post of the finance manager and 30 for the position of CEO by June 20.
"As requested by the ICC, these positions were advertised on their official website as well," Shah said. Karmacharya said five candidates have been shortlisted for the post of chief executive and six for finance manager. "We will be checking in detail about their professional experience and qualification and carrying out an elaborate background check. Once their credentials are verified, members of the ICC and ACC have been requested to help CAN with the final selection. This will help avoid any future allegations of favouritism or bias", said Shah.
CAN has also had to deal with the general discontentment of its national team, which reached its peak when the players boycotted a national one-day championship over a dispute. Shah acknowledged there were delays in player payments, but said that CAN was always willing to honour its commitments to the players. He also said that when issues arose, players ought not to go the media.
"Sometimes we are not economically sound," Shah said. "There are times when the money that is supposed to come in, does not flow as it is expected to. We know the players' problems, but they should also try to understand our problems. Whatever the issues, they can come and bang on our tables, but going to the media is not a healthy trend. I request the players to come and talk to us and not wash their dirty linen in public."
Shah, who attended the ACC meeting recently, said he was hopeful of support from the Asian body and the ICC, along with the BCCI. CAN had earlier asked BCCI for permission to use training facilities but the Indian board had still not taken a decision on the same. "We will remind the BCCI of their commitment made during the ACC meeting and I'm sure they will look at it very positively."
Shah also revealed that the new ICC chairman N Srinivasan had spoken strongly about promoting the cause of Asian Associate and Affiliate nations during the ACC meet, disclosing that out of the $90 million being disbursed by the ICC to Associate and Affiliate countries, $45 million would go to Asian nations.
Bishen Jeswant is a stats sub editor at ESPNcricinfo. @bishen_jeswant.