'Committed to transparent T20 league' - Nepal board
Tarini Bikram Shah, the acting president of the Cricket Association of Nepal, has said the board is committed to conducting the T20 leg of the Nepal Premier League (NPL) in a clean and transparent manner.
The inaugural NPL was divided into 50-over and 20-over divisions, of which the 50-over games were held in May. However, the T20 competition, which is yet to be played, has seen some controversy in its build-up, after a few members of CAN filed a no-confidence motion against Tanka Angbuhang Limbu, the CAN president. Angbuhang has since stepped aside due to ongoing investigations against CAN.
The primary cause for the no-confidence motion was the outsourcing of the NPL to Zohra Sports Management, a private sports management firm. According to a few reports, there was no bidding process before the league was outsourced and Angbuhang had reportedly not made it mandatory for the firm to submit the tournament accounts to CAN. Before the procedural formalities of the no-confidence motion were completed, the board came under investigation by Nepal's Commission for Investigation into Abuse of Authority, after which 10 members, including Angbuhang, the secretary and other office bearers had to step aside.
"It was Zohra Sports who initially proposed the idea to conduct an NPL and this is great for the game," Shah said. "However, we wanted the tournament to be held in a transparent manner - whether it be around the code of conduct, anti-corruption or other financial matters. There is no question about the utility of the NPL, we just need to ensure that it is run in a clean and transparent manner."
Aamir Akhtar, a former Nepal cricketer and the owner of Zohra Sports, confirmed that the agency had conceived the idea for the tournament but emphasised it had no reason to share its accounts with CAN since the two parties did not have a financial arrangement.
"The idea and initiative to conduct a Nepal Premier League came from Zohra Sports and not CAN. Therefore, there is no question of there being any bidding or tender process," Akhtar said. "On the submission of accounts, since Zohra Sports has no financial arrangement with CAN, whether revenue-sharing or otherwise, there is no rationale for us to share our accounts with them. All payments to players, umpires, ground staff, etc. are being made by Zohra Sports. We have nothing to hide, but as a matter of principle, we will not disclose our accounts since we have no obligation to do so."
With Nepal cricket lurching from one controversy to another since the World T20 in March, Shah said Angbuhang ought to have stepped in and resolved the matter at the time.
"What happened between Zohra Sports and the governing council is not very clear. Our suspended president should have stepped in and resolved the matter," Shah said. "I'm not sure whether he had the time or if he got caught up with other political commitments. We are sorry that the progress of a good thing was hindered. Going forward, we will make sure that everything is to everyone's satisfaction."
The tournament has an IPL-inspired set-up of privately-owned franchises and the rules of the league allow team owners to include within their side any two overseas players who are not restricted or banned by the ICC. It is expected that domestic players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be part of the league. The dates for the tournament are expected to be finalised once Shah returns to the country from England.
Bishen Jeswant is a stats sub editor at ESPNcricinfo. @bishen_jeswant