The First Lady of Nepalese pitch: Bhawana Ghimire behind ICC’s warning to Nepal


Bhawana Ghimire
Bhawana Ghimire, the First Lady of the Nepalese pitch.

Bhawana Ghimire made news, global news, in October 2014 by taking on the manly world of cricket as the first CEO of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) and the first female ever to head a national cricket board in the entire South Asian region.

A little over a year, she is back in the news by inadvertently becoming the reason of her country’s possible dismissal from the membership of International Cricket Council (ICC). There are strong indications that the ICC may suspend CAN’s membership due to twisted internal politics, media reports indicated Monday.

According to Kantipur, three top cricket officials in the Himalayan nation received ICC’s official warning letters last Thursday. Signed by Tim Anderson who is ICC’s head of Global Development, the letters apparently warn that the time has come for the the world’s apex cricketing authority to take imperative action on Nepal due to disputes around the future of Ms Ghimire as the CAN CEO. ICC’s warning also appears to be fuelled by the ongoing wrangling between two opposing sides, each claiming to be the legitimate national authority on cricket.

Cricket enthusiasts in the country are on edge as news of a possible suspension has been making headlines for the past two days. This has come at a time when the young republic has been making great strides in establishing its image at the international stage as a nation that can score runs and take wickets.

As things currently stand, there are two versions of ‘CAN’. One was formed by the government after it dissolved the board in November 2014 on the basis of incompetent leadership and alleged financial irregularities while the other came into being following an elective general assembly which was organised in defiance of the government decision.

The government-formed CAN, president over by Ramesh Silwal, has extended the tenure of Bhawana Ghimire for another five years while the other side had already written her off on January 13, the day her tenure came to an end following several short-term extensions since 2014. Now the trouble is, the ICC is grossly dissatisfied with the lack of maturity and commitment shown by the Nepalese cricket officials because a strong, well-functioning secretariat with a CEO and other necessary executives are necessary prerequisites for development of the sport.

However, if you are using search engines to find out the right cricket authority in Nepal then be prepared to be puzzled out of your wits.

Cricket Association of Nepal(CAN) is the supreme cricket governing body of Nepal. It is the central custodian of cricket in Nepal with a vision to make cricket the medium of strength, unity and pride,” claims the website of the ‘CAN’ presided over by Mr Silwal (government-formed). There is another website, also of ‘CAN’, which equally emphatically claims to be the principal authority of the game in Nepal. So the website of the other version (elected) presided over by Tanka Angbuhang (Limbu) claims, ”Cricket Association of Nepal is the official governing body of the sport of cricket in Nepal. Its current headquarters is in Kathmandu, Nepal. Cricket Association of Nepal is Nepal’s representative at the International Cricket Council and is an associate member and has been a member of that body since 1988.”

CAN's logo
CAN’s logo

Both sides even share the same logo showing a rhinoceros and the unique triangular national flag with the sun and the moon but, interestingly, they field different websites. However, to make things even more confusing, or rather interesting, both websites carry the same address and telephone number, +977-1-4912042.

The made attempts to reach office-bearers of CAN through the above telephone number. A male answered only to hang up on the caller within seconds.

Nepal cannot take the warning lightly because cancellation of membership does have a recent precedent. In June 2015, ICC suspended USA Cricket Association’s membership after a review committee “expressed significant concerns about the governance, finance, reputation and cricketing activities of USACA”.

Mr Anderson’s letter has also cast doubt over the future of Nepal’s ICC World Cricket League Championship match against Namibia scheduled from April 16 to 18 at Kirtipur in Kathmandu. Apparently he said in the letter that the ICC will announce its view on the matter in March.

Nepal became an affiliate member of the ICC in 1988 and then rose to associate membership in 1996.

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