Kathmandu riot report kicked further into long grass
Any faint lingering hope that the ICC's enquiry into the crowd disturbances during the World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in Kathmandu in February might lead to the correction of what appears to be a manifest injustice to Singapore were snuffed out last week with the decision of the Board to refer the report to the Development Committee.
With Nepal heading for defeat at the hands of the USA in the final round-robin match of the tournament, a result which would certainly have put the home side into third place on net run rate and have denied them promotion to Division 4, the crowd began rioting. A 48-minute delay and the resulting Duckworth/Lewis calculation changed the balance enough to put Nepal through by the narrowest of margins at the expense of Singapore, who had earlier beaten Jersey to move - very briefly, as it turned out - into second place.
Tournament officials allowed this outcome to stand, but on 2 March the ICC announced an enquiry into the affair. It was believed until now that this report would have been dealt with by the ICC Board when it met in Dubai on 19 and 20 April.
But the Board decided instead that, in view of the fact that the World Cricket League is a development project, the report should first be considered by its Development Committee, which is not scheduled to meet until next month. Assuming that the recommendations of that committee will then come back to the Board when it meets in June, there is now very little prospect of Singapore's participation in the Division 4 tournament, which will be played in Italy on 14-21 August.
This turn of events gives rise to two important questions.
The first is procedural: while it can be argued that the decision to refer the matter to the Development Committee is, like the interpretation of the playing conditions by officials at the time, technically justified, it is hard to understand why the report came to the Board first, producing a two-month delay.
Given the importance of the issues for the ICC's security policies and for the credibility of its World Cricket League, surely it would have been better for the Development Committee to consider the report first? And for that to be done, if necessary, by means of a teleconference?
Those of a cynical turn of mind might conclude that the delay suits the ICC very well, since it effectively disposes of any suggestion that Nepal should not be allowed to advance to Division 4 as a direct result of their fans' misconduct. At the very least, this cumbersome procedure indicates that the Council sees little or no urgency in a situation which, after all, only affects a couple of Associate countries and a comparatively minor tournament.
Equally remarkable is the way in which the ICC media release following the Board meeting made no reference whatsoever to this item, or to the decision to refer the report. Was the ICC hoping that nobody would notice? Or is the World Cricket League of such little significance that the matter simply wasn't worth reporting?
There were suspicions at the beginning of March that the instigation of an enquiry had less to do with the core issues than it did with a face-saving exercise, kicking an embarrassing issue into the long grass, and this mismanagement of the report will only tend to confirm that feeling.
One cannot help thinking that it would all have been very different if the victims of the crowd's behaviour had been one of the Full members - or even Afghanistan. As it stands, the ICC appears to have scored another own goal.