Staff restructuring sparks protest against ACB top brass

Afghanistan Cricket Board chairman Atif Mashal stands with captain Asghar Stanikzai ahead of the ceremony for Nawroz Mangal Peter Della Penna

A large cull of employees at the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has provoked an uprising against chairman Atif Mashal and chief executive Shafiqullah Stanikzai. The ACB axed or shuffled over 30 employees, including a number of top officials, as part of extensive reforms after obtaining Full Membership at the ICC but it has led to employees alleging that the leadership is mismanaging cricket affairs and misusing funds sanctioned for the development of cricket.

As many as 25 managers across various departments were let go, a step taken, according to Mashal, for the sake of reform and restructuring. While some of the staff had their contracts terminated outright, others were given one month's notice. A few members of the staff were also either demoted, allegedly, or moved to positions outside their areas of expertise.

The aggrieved employees and ex-employees protested the new recruitments and held a press conference detailing allegations of corruption and mismanagement within the board. They also listed these in an email to the ACB board of governors, which includes government officials.

The email, which ESPNcricinfo has accessed, has made numerous allegations including the squandering of "precious time and money" on self-promotion while falling behind on infrastructure development, and new staff recruitments made without following HR protocol. The email also questioned the sacking of staff who played a "key role" in Afghanistan achieving Full Membership.

"With respect, ACB staff would like to inform the respected Board members that if such management is working in ACB as leaders, we staff will not work anymore in ACB and would boycott ACB operations," the email read. "It [is] worth mentioning that we have valid documents against their [chairman and chief executive] illegal proceedings in hand and would personally share with all respective Board members in a meeting of yours [sic.] date and time choice."

Mashal told ESPNcricinfo that he did not need to respond to the allegations.

"This uprising is a result of a few people getting fired, which was because of new structure and reforms," Mashal said. "Now we are a Full Member and we have introduced new structure and will be bringing reforms to ACB. Board is in loop and in our last special board meeting it was decided to introduce new structure and start reforms and we are committed to cricket development and will continue the reforms.

"These are just claims [in the email] and I don't need to respond to every single claim. As a board we are following our plan and we are on the right track. We all are on the same page and things are carrying on on normally. I am not worried about a few people shouting but instead we will continue our commitment to reforms and development. Cricket will shine in Afghanistan day by day, inshallah."

In July, Mashal had accused some politicians and government authorities of interfering in cricket affairs.

"We have evidence to show that some politicians and powerful individuals put pressure on us to appoint their own people in the ACB and the national team," he told a press conference in Kabul. "If these individuals continue interference, we will have no way but to reveal their names. No type of pressure and interference is acceptable to us. If anyone tried to impose their own demands on ACB, they would fail."