The saga of the ICC's response to the disturbing events of 26 February in Kathmandu, when a riot by the Nepalese crowd led directly to the interruption of their side's match against the USA and indirectly to Nepal's promotion to Division 4 of the World Cricket League at the expense of Singapore, has reached a tantalising new chapter with the publication on Sunday of several of the documents relating to the case.
Strangely, five 'annexures' to the report of the investigating group have been published on the ICC website but not (as yet) the report itself. There is, therefore, no indication of whether Singapore's protest against their relegation to third position as a result of the recalculation of the USA's target in the interrupted match is likely to succeed.
It is, however, difficult to see, on the basis of the material now published, how the decisions of the Event Technical Committee can be allowed to stand.
Singapore's initial protest, made on the evening of the match, was based on two grounds: that the match officials' recalculation under the Duckworth/Lewis system was incorrect, and that the crowd 'invasion' of the field of play had given Nepal an unfair benefit.
The first of these arguments appears to be baseless, because it claims that while the Nepali score was rightly recalculated, the number of overs used in working out their run rate should have remained at 50. As the ETC pointed out in their response (undated, but presumably written the same evening), the playing conditions were quite clear that in a D/L recalculation the overs must be reduced as well, to the number available to the opposing team - in this case, 46. It was this adjustment which meant that Nepal's net run rate remained above that of Singapore.
The second part of the Singapore case, however, seems to have more merit: pointing out that the home team 'has a duty to ensure that the crowd does not interrupt a match', the protest notes that its failure to do so on this occasion had led directly to Nepal's advantage.
It is this point which is considerably amplified in the Singapore CA's subsequent submission, written by its deputy president, the lawyer Mahmood Gaznavi. Taking as its starting point the contention that whatever the outcome of the Nepal-USA match Singapore would, before the crowd's intervention have finished above one of the participants, and that when the riot began the USA, having already taken 20 off the over in progress, needed only 13 runs from 32 deliveries to ensure that they and Singapore were promoted and Nepal finished third, Gaznavi's document mounts a powerful argument against the ETC's decision to let the result stand.
'Whereas the competition for a second position for promotion to Division 4 was between Nepal and USA (with Singapore assured of at least second place),' the submission states, 'events which Nepal failed to control resulted in Nepal ascending to the detriment of Singapore, an innocent participant in the tournament.'
Gaznavi goes on to cite a 2009 House of Lords judgement, in the case of Gray v Thames Trains Ltd and Another, to establish the principle that 'a party, and by its logical extension, its affiliates, cannot benefit from its won [sic.] wrong.'
Interestingly, the published documents do not include the reports of the tournament referee, David Jukes, on this match and the final the following day, although both are quoted in Gaznavi's argument. On the basis of the first of these, he suggests that the match should have been awarded to the USA rather than resumed with a revised target.
This would, in fact, have left both the USA and Nepal above Singapore on NRR: although Gaznavi does not argue the point, his fundamental jurisprudential claim that Nepal should not be allowed to benefit from their failure to control the crowd would then suggest that NRR should have been set aside in the light of the riot.
An additional element of the Singaporean case in that a Nepal CA representative was a member of the Event Technical Committee which ruled on the situation and retained Nepal in second place.
Even though Singapore's claim that there was no conceivable scenario in which they would not have finished second had the scores not been adjusted turns out, on careful analysis, not to be accurate, the fact that that adjustment virtually guaranteed Nepal a second place which they had been almost certain to lose means that the principle of no benefit from wrong-doing does suggest, as CricketEurope has argued all along, that the result of the tournament cannot be allowed to stand.
More than the position of Nepal and Singapore in the World Cricket League rests on the inquiry's findings: it is the ICC's ability and willingness to manage such events and ensure their proper conduct which is at stake. Anything less than the demotion of Nepal would be a licence for crowds to intervene whenever their team is in trouble.