The chapter; so far remained folded inside the ACB needed to be unfolded to the public, given the skirmishes that have recently taken place among the players have remained vague and the outright episode hidden. The disagreements among the players led to the poor performance of the National Cricket team in the ODI world cup 2019 held in England which triggered the outrage of the Afghan people, many went on to social media and started protests calling on the government for urgent replacement of the board members they claimed were corrupt and a big reason for behind the shaky performance of the team.
Although, many say the reason is the bare-faced political interference in ACB, but economic analysts, on the other hand, believe that the budget allotted to the ACB is mismanaged, nonetheless, both are agitating issues and direly required to be addressed, if otherwise neglected the ACB will face the fate of Zimbabwe cricket Board that was suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC). ACB receives hundreds of millions of dollars’ budget from ICC and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) of Afghanistan that every year allots $1 million budget to the ACB. Besides, big firms (e.g. the Alukozay group of companies) had a contract with ACB, which provided the board $1.3 million annually until 2018.
The ICC allocates a special budget to the member countries for the expansion of cricket to the far-flung areas, developing its scope and construction of stadiums and academies, framing policies for budget allocation to mainstream cricket and accessible to everyone. progress and establishment of training academies is yet another key objective for which the ICC hires a special delegation to monitor the construction operations in the countries newly entitled as a full member of ICC and make reports. whereas in case of Afghanistan, the flip side of the coin is quite different, the ICC; due to the security threats fails to send a delegation for a close observation of the operations because currently, Afghanistan is not so secure to be counted on, the obscure security situation may be a challenge for the ICC, the ACB on the other hand leverage this challenge by turning it into a lucrative opportunity, because the overall budget is spent on trivial expenditure and unofficial visits, and this is the reason why a country with a full ICC membership does not have a standardized stadium and training academy. “However, Alukozay International Stadium in Kabul is thought to be the best in the country, still can be judged easily because of its tenuous construction,” says many analysts.
“Grounds in some of the provinces in Afghanistan are poorly built, full of sands, stones and loam, causing impediments to the players while they are fielding or practicing, surprisingly in many of the grounds players play with leather ball on pitches made of concrete that could cause grave injuries to the players,” says Atal, a teenage player who plays for North Zone.
Due to the unavailability of the sophisticated academies and proper training facilities in the country, many of the national cricket team players spend it on unnecessary hangouts and picnics instead of practicing and fitness workout in their spare time. the board conducts training camps for the players outside the country, which is a waste of millions of dollars. Besides, a huge part of the budget is spent on unofficial visits of the board staff which is according to the rules laid by the ICC is illegal. As per the cricketing norms, the national team should be accompanied by the Chief selector, coaches, and the physician, while incase of ACB, in every visit starting from the board Chairman to the chief executive officer, selectors, and the team managers each one of them join the team that could be intimidating for many of the players the fresh comers in particular as they claim put them under pressure while playing in front of high ranks officials.
Moreover, the budget is extravagantly spent through high payroll to the staff e.g. the chairman is paid Afs15 lakh, executive director Afs3 lakh, the chief selector of the erstwhile board would charge $500, Andy Moles the current chief selector is paid $15000. Employees in each department regardless of their level of position are paid Afs1.5 lakhs, which many analysts call it a prodigality, subordinates at a low level are paid more than Afs50,000. the other major hindrance is the lack of expertise in the Administrative and finance department of the ACB.
The mismanagement of the allotted budget and dereliction of the duty by the concerned staff at the board if noticed by the ICC will be catastrophic for the ACB and will have to deal confront the future consequences, therefore it is necessary for the board to properly allocate the budget to facilitate the construction of standardized stadiums, academies and avail the required fitness facilities to the players so that the funds misspent on conducting camps outside Afghanistan will be saved and invested in in the country instead. Unofficial visits must be alleviated; all the international visits of the board members should be confined solely to the ICC official meetings. The employee payroll system needs to be reconsidered while taking into account the pay law framed by the National Directorate of Administrative Reforms and Civil Services of Afghanistan (NDARCS). This way not only the misappropriation of the budget will dwindle also a sophisticated cricketing platform will be ensured and selection of qualified staff must be a top priority.
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.