In these last three months, Khwaja has gone from being a provisional occupant of the chair to an “aspirant” to that very chair even as the rest of the cricket world (read: ICC’s full members) tries and scratches its head to figure the rise of the 64-year-old Singapore national.
It is during these same three months that the ICC continued to postpone meetings after meetings (of the board) and refused to take a call on the election process before sending out a statement on October 12 that 18th (six days later) was the deadline for “nominations of potential candidates to be made by current board directors.”
Shockingly, while the ICC gave less than a week for nominations to be filed, the election itself – the governing body said – would be held in early December.
While the cricket fraternity continues to wrap this around its head and wonder what the ICC has been up to, there’s been another story of disproportionate complications playing out.
The ICC had mentioned on its website – until September 12, 2020 – that Khwaja was a representative of the Singapore Cricket Association (SCA). The same day, the SCA – in an interview with TOI – said: “Khwaja has had no contact with the SCA since 2016 and therefore had no backing to represent Singapore as the Associate Member director at the ICC”.
TOI reported the same on September 13, following which the ICC removed “Singapore Cricket Association” from next to Khwaja’s name on the website. Further, in an official communication, the ICC insisted that the “Associate member representative can be a former or a current director”, in an effort to suggest that Khwaja could continue to be at the ICC regardless of SCA’s candidature.
On September 15, TOI asked ICC CEO Manu Sawhney and the organisation’s communications head Claire Furlong to answer these specific questions: A) Where is it mentioned in the ICC constitution that the Deputy Chairman can be independent? (Please share the exact clause from the constitution); B) Where is it mentioned in the ICC constitution that the Associate Member representative can be a former or current director? (Please share the exact clause / article from the constitution).
It’s been 33 days and counting and there’s been no reply from the ICC yet.
TOI also asked the ICC why the governing body made changes to its website within 48 hours of the September 13 story on Khwaja and why was ‘Singapore Cricket Association’ removed from next to Khwaja’s name on the website page listing out the board’s structure. Screenshots of the same were also shared with Sawhney’s office. It’s been more than a month and there’s been no response yet (see screenshots).
The ICC continues to insist that “to be an Associate Member Director, an individual must be a representative of an Associate Member or a current or former Director of the ICC”. However, it refuses to share the exact clause in the constitution mentioning the same.
This lack of clarity persists even as Khwaja tries to work his way up to the chair that will determine the fate of global cricket over the next few years, even as the sport tries to save itself from the wrath of a raging pandemic.
“It’s all very well to advocate that representatives from lesser-known countries (in the cricket circuit) should be elevated to positions of power so that there’s a balance in administration. But to do that without any lack of clarity over a certain individual got there in the first place is not at all healthy. There are people in the ICC busy reflecting on how Khwaja can raise his hand for the ICC chairperson’s position. But, shouldn’t the same ICC explain how Khwaja was elected as an Associate Member representative?” says a board member.
TOI sent the ICC reminders in the last one month to seek an answer to the emailed questions and there was no reply.
There are those who strongly believe that if cricket’s global administration does not set its priorities in order, the after-effects of the pandemic could stretch things from bad to worse for the game’s economics. “For once, politics need to be kept aside in the larger interest of the game,” say observers.