It is understood that a dossier has been submitted to the ICC’s Head of Legal, raising serious doubts about the eligibility of at least six key members of the Surinamese squad: Wasim Akram Haslim, Gavin Singh, Banerd Bailey, Yuvraj Dayal, Saiud Drepaul, and Muneshwar (Chris) Patandin.'
Their contribution to the side’s somewhat surprising success was very significant. Between them, these six posted more than two-thirds of the runs Suriname scored in the tournament and claimed all but two of the 46 wickets the team took in their five matches, and with 189 runs at an average of 63.00 and 13 wickets at 12.00 Singh was declared Player of the Tournament.
Yet even before the tournament began doubts were being raised, initially in Suriname itself, about whether these players could possibly be eligible for selection. Surinamese media reported on 26 August that the politician and publicist Radjen Kisoensingh had launched a strong attack on the team selection and other aspects of the national Board’s administration.
According to Star News, he described the team as comprising ‘three Surinamers and eleven Guyanese’, adding that ‘our national interests are at risk, our identity and international integrity are being played with’.
Kisoensingh warned that if the truth came to light Suriname risked suspension from the ICC, but Board chairman Raj Narain shrugged off the allegations, accusing Kisoensingh and other critics of damaging the country’s reputation with their criticisms. Narain has since made much of the team’s success.
Concerns about the nature of the Surinamese squad were apparently also voiced at the tournament itself, but ICC officials continued to insist that the eligibility rules had been properly applied and that all the players were entitled to take part.
Yet information readily available from online sources makes it difficult to understand how Guyana-born cricketers who evidently spend most of their time playing in Guyana, the United States and elsewhere, could possibly satisfy the residence requirements, or, if they have somehow managed to acquire Surinamese passports, the even more stringent Development Criteria, which apply to all WCL tournaments below the Championship.
Haslim, for example, is a full-time cricketer who currently plays for the Everest/ACS club in New York and from time to time in Guyana. Patandin also played regularly for Everest in 2015.
The Surinamese Board, on the other hand, appears to be have been so confident that their selections would remain unchallenged that they even nominated Haslim and Patandin as Suriname’s representatives in the trials for the ICC Americas team which will take part in the Super50 competition in the West Indies, and Haslim was immediately placed in the squad for Phase 2 of the programme.
Neither made it through to the final selection, however, which is entirely composed of players from Canada and the USA.
In WCL Division 6 Suriname lost just one game, crucially beating Vanuatu in the semi-final to ensure promotion to Division 5 and then going on to beat Guernsey in the final. Patandin’s haul of five for 18 in that semi-final was the match-winning performance which sealed his side’s progression.
The challenge to the eligibility of such a substantial proportion of the Surinamese squad raises profound questions, not only about the legitimacy of the team’s success in Division 6, but also about the rigorousness of the ICC’s monitoring procedures and indeed about the nature of cricket administration in Suriname.
It is not the first time that a country has been suspected of bending the rules, and sanctions were rightly imposed on Greece when they were found to have fielded an ineligible player at the European Division 2 championships in 2006.
If even some of the reported claims prove to be true, the result of the Division 6 tournament cannot be allowed to stand, and there must be a further investigation into how it was possible for the ICC’s regulations to be flouted, despite the fact that such concerns were already being raised before a ball was bowled.