Parting shot

  • CAN must resolve its factional infighting and extend coach Dassanayake’s contract

Jun 4, 2014-

The manner in which the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has treated national cricket coach Pubudu Dassanayake has been disappointing, to say the least. Dassanayake, acknowledged by players and fans alike as being instrumental in the recent stellar rise of Nepali cricket, left Nepal yesterday amidst uncertainty over his contract with CAN, Nepal’s cricketing authority. Earlier in March, CAN had decided to extend the coach’s contract for a year. A month later, in a flagrant act of perfidy, CAN rescinded the one-year offer and handed Dassanayake a humiliating three-month extension. This move was roundly criticised in all quarters, demanding that Dassanayake be given a longer contract. The pleas fell on deaf ears.

Dassanayake’s departure might well be the straw that breaks CAN’s back. CAN has long been grossly ineffective, staffed as it was by political appointees and office bearers with little knowledge and passion for the game of cricket. New problems have now emerged. A bitter dispute has erupted between separate factions belonging to President Tanka Angbuhang and Vice-president Chatur Bahadur Chand over an ongoing investigation by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). CAN offered this investigation as a poor excuse for why it was unable to extend coach Dassanayake’s contract. It seems increasingly as if Dassanayake was caught in the crossfire between the two factions scrambling to escape the CIAA’s widening gyre. CAN has also been unhappy with the natural influence Dassanayake exercises over his players. The cricket body unfairly saw Dassanayake’s fingerprints all over a protest by players earlier this year demanding reforms in administration.

These petty issues have overshadowed what should have been the only criteria for retaining a coach: merit. Dassanayake has a proven track record. Since 2011, he has led the cricket team to new heights, culminating in Nepal’s first-ever appearance at a world cup event—the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March-April. Captain Paras Khadka is reverential of the man, talking often about Dasasnayake’s support, leadership and long-term vision for the team.

The CAN vice-president’s callous comment that ‘Nepali cricket will not collapse without Dassanayake’ betrays a vain and entitled attitude. This paradigm will not do any good for Nepali cricket. Dassanayake cannot be allowed to become victim to CAN’s power tussles. Dassanayake was reportedly offered a nine-month contract on the sly by one CAN faction before he left Nepal yesterday. The coach rightly refused to sign the contract, saying he would only do so in full view of the public and with the consent of all stakeholders. There can be no doubt that retaining Dassanayake is in the best interests of Nepali cricket. With his departure, Nepali cricket will once again be rudderless and hard-pressed to find a coach of Dassanayake’s calibre. But CAN must engage with Dassanayake through the right channels, not backroom deals. The responsibility for the ensuing detriment to burgeoning Nepali cricket will then land on CAN’s shoulder, extending all the way up to its political masters in the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Cabinet.

Published: 05-06-2014 08:52

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