ICC chief Sawhney ‘sent on leave’ after conduct probe Manu Sawhney

MANU Sawhney, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, has been placed on leave after an investigation by an auditor into his management style, according to reports.

According to media reports, the ICC hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to review the council’s internal culture. The review was conducted during February and involved one-on-one discussions with ICC staff, including board members and other senior executives, as well as an anonymous survey sent to the entire organisation. One of the outcomes of the review was that Sawhney’s working methods were found to be “problematic”, ESPNcricinfo reported.

ESPNcricinfo said sources with knowledge of the review said Sawhney was unlikely to return to his role. The ICC’s general manager cricket Geoff Allardice has been appointed acting CEO. Sawhney has been working from home for more than a week, although the reason given for this has been that he is isolating after a family member tested positive for Covid-19.

ESPNcricinfo reported that the review of Sawhney’s conduct had to be seen in the context of his role in a battle within cricket over the future shape of the international calendar. This rift put the CEO at odds with the sport’s big three boards — the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and Cricket Australia.

Sawhney has been a leading figure in a camp including several smaller cricket boards that wants an extra event added to the next ICC commercial rights cycle. He also opened up the hosting of ICC events in the next cycle to bids from all members, moving away from in-house host selections that resulted in the big three boards hosting all major ICC events during the current cycle.

Sawhney became ICC CEO in January 2019, taking over from South Africa’s David Richardson. He was appointed by former ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, who had also pushed back against the power of the big three boards.

Sawhney had also come under pressure after backing Singapore Cricket Association veteran Imran Khwaja in last year’s contest to be ICC chairman, eventually won by Greg Barclay. Barclay was favoured by the big three boards. Khwaja was close to Manohar, having served as his deputy at the ICC.

It is not the first time Sawhney’s management style has come under scrutiny. In 2017, he was reported to have been placed on leave while CEO of the Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore’s national stadium, after a complaint about his treatment of staff. The Sports Hub decided no further action was warranted after conducting its own investigation and Sawhney later said the complaint was “false and mischevious”. He resigned from the role shortly afterwards.

Prior to working with Singapore Sports Hub, Sawhney spent 17 years at the Singapore-based pay-television broadcaster ESPN Star Sports, where he rose to become managing director. —Sport Business

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