THE stone-throwing Nepal public, not the cricketers, helped their team to promotion from Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five in February, and the ICC have concluded they is nothing they can do until they amend the rules.
The ICC have published their report into the day when the unruliness of the 12,000 crowd affected the match between Nepal and United States in Kathmandu. The suspension of play at Tribhuvan University for 48 minutes and recalculation of the run target led directly to Nepal pipping Singapore to promotion that day by 0.004 on run-rate.
The Singapore Cricket Association complained immediately after they realised there had been an unfair influence in the round-robin tournament, but the ICC investigation panel said they found no reason to change the final placings or impose sanctions. There was no remedy for retrospective justice within the rules.
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said the decision was a "most unfortunate outcome" for Singapore and added: "While everyone agrees that this was a regrettable incident and one which we do not want to see repeated, there is no justifiable basis to promote Singapore, and such temptation would create a dangerous precedent to the integrity of competition and the playing regulations."
Really? Brick, rock and stone throwing by a hostile Nepal crowd turned the competition on its head. Singapore would have been home and dry without the shortening of the match due to action beyond the boundary. Unfortunately for Singapore the panel found no way of administering natural justice. Suspending Nepal from the next Division Four tournament and allowing Singapore to fill the gap might have been one way, but this did not form part of the investigation remit.
Players could have been killed, according to the tournament referee, and they had to shelter in the pavilion. So why would it be a "dangerous precedent" to prevent a crowd from influencing the outcome of a competition? In fact the ICC panel did indeed consider the crowd action to be a dangerous precedent because their report made recommendations that sanctions be introduced in the future.
The panel members were David Richardson (ICC general manager of cricket), David Becker (ICC head of legal) and Ravi Sawani (general manager of the Anti Corruption and Security Unit). The ICC said that the scope of the investigation, based on the complaints and concerns raised initially by the Singapore Cricket Association, included:
(a) Conduct of the match officials during the match;
(b) Conduct of the event technical committee;
(c) Computation of the net run rate and the argument of ‘unfair advantage’ lodged by SCA;
(d) Alleged breaches of security policy on the part of Cricket Association of Nepal ;
(e) Allegations of possible corruption in the match
Only the argument of unfair advantage was really relevant. Apart from crowd control, the match day was run faultlessly, and the ICC said in a press release: "The inquiry found no evidence to support the claims of the Singapore Cricket Association, but made recommendations that the proposed Mandatory Safety Standards, being introduced by the ICC Security Task Force, considers including sanctions against the home board when the home crowd interrupts a match or a home crowd interrupts a match such that the home team benefits."
After the crowd incidents the Cricket Association of Nepal agreed to hold no further international cricket at the university venue until certain remedial measures were carried out. These measures included reconstruction of the boundary wall that supplied the stones thrown by members of the crowd.
The match on Feb 26 went badly for Nepal, who could afford to lose -- but not too badly. The Americans were cruising at 150-5 off 32 overs in pursuit of the home total of 162-9 when the trouble erupted. Play did not restart for 48 minutes and, as per the playing regulations, the United States target was recalculated according to the Duckworth-Lewis Method to 157 off 46 overs. Nepal knew that delaying an inevitable defeat by one or two balls would be enough to protect their run-rate. The United States duly won to become champions and Nepal grabbed second place ahead of Singapore, who won easily elsewhere on the same day.
Full ICC report:
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