Kathmandu: On Thursday, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), the cricket government body of Nepal, decided to take action against four national team players, including Captain Gyandendra Malla, in a move that shocked many.
The CAN decided to strip skipper Malla and Vice Captain Dipendra Airee from their duties. Likewise, along with the duo, Sompal Kami and Kamal Singh Airee would not be offered central contracts for the first six months of 2022, the CAN said in a statement.
The CAN appointed Sandeep Lamichhane as the new captain of the national team.
The decision has come at a time when Nepal is supposed to prepare for 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier slated for mid-February.
The row between players and the governing body started after the four cricketers opened up to the media about their dissatisfaction over the CAN’s decision to grade and allow central contracts to national players in September, 2020.
In an interview with Setopati, a Nepali-language news portal, the players said that they were not satisfied with the grading system as fast bowler Sompal Kami was granted a ‘B’ grade status, while Rohit Poudel, who has been consistently performing well for the team, was not even included in the list.
After the interview was published, the CAN formed a six-member committee to probe the incident. The committee asked players to furnish their clarifications.
The players replied, “We are not satisfied with the grading. Some players are discriminated against by the CAN.” They even refused to sign the contract presented by the CAN.
The row started after four national-level cricketers opened up to the media about their dissatisfaction over the CAN’s decision to grade and allow central contracts to national players.
The cricketers also ran a signature campaign against the decision, and submitted a memorandum to the CAN, giving the governing body an ultimatum of seven days to solve the issue.
Following several rounds of discussion, the committee, led by acting secretary Prashant Bikram Malla, decided to take action against the four players.
“The probe committee concluded that the four players breached players’ code of conduct,” reads a statement issued by the CAN. “As per the recommendation, they would not be included in the central contract for the first six months of 2022.”
The probe committee of CAN went on to ask for clarification with the players regarding the issue. But the four players have submitted a memorandum instead of clarification, according to the body.
“The players have signed the code of conduct of CAN but they breached it,” Malla, the secretary, has said. “According to the Article 3.3.1 of the code, the players are not allowed to make any statement to the media that would disrepute the game, Asian Cricket Council (ACC), ICC, board or office bearers.”
Former captain of Nepali Cricket Team Paras Khadka said the four players have to get justice. Taking to Twitter, Khadka wrote, “We are in support of our cricket players. Justice has to be served. Hopefully CAN will take its decision back and players can start training to focus on preparations for the T-20 World Cup qualifier in February and to maintain our ODI STATUS in coming days.”
Although CAN has said that the performance of Malla was not satisfactory as the captain, he holds a tremendous record under his leadership. After Khadka stepped down as the captain, Malla assumed the role in 2019. Under his captaincy, Nepal played 11 T20 internationals and 10 one-day internationals. Nepal won 8 T20Is and six ODIs.
On Friday, the four players organized a press meet in the capital and urged the CAN to rethink their decision.
“The decision by CAN is unfair,” Captain Malla said. “We devoted our life for cricket and country, sacrificing various things and now as we speak for our rights they take action against us. The decision must be withdrawn immediately.”
Moreover, the decision to appoint Lamichhane as the new captain has not been received well by the players. Some players have even unfollowed him on social media, according to Nepal Press. There are many senior players in the team who are reluctant to accept Lamichhane as the team’s captain. Nepal Live Today couldn’t independently confirm the information.
The ongoing situation has not only created tension among the cricket fraternity but has also disappointed Nepali cricket supporters.
“No one is 100% innocent in Nepal cricket,” Lagat Karki tweets. “CAN was always incompetent, some players were diverted from their real roles and responsibilities and young people were unnecessarily involved in that mess, and fans are always weakened emotionally.#NepalCricket”.
The current conflict between CAN and cricketers can invite more problems if it continues for a long run. In 2016, the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended CAN, citing increasing government interference in the governing body.
This is not the first time that cricketers are unhappy with the decision of the governing body. In 2014, Nepal’s national players boycotted the national one-day cricket championship, saying the CAN was overlooking their needs.
This article has been updated.