He has never bowled a ball, but veteran lawyer calls the shots in cricket
Posted Friday, August 3 2012 at 23:30
Mention the name Sharad Rao to Kenya’s cricketing fraternity and you will be met with knowing glances.
Mr Rao, the chair of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, has never been a cricketer, but he has been involved in local and international cricket in different capacities.
He was even the chair of Nairobi Gymkhana, the premier members’ only club which has hosted many international cricketers and cricket matches, including the 2003 Cricket World Cup match between Kenya and Sri Lanka.
Nairobi Gymkhana received international acclaim as Kenya’s ground of choice for major matches in 2000 when it hosted the Mini World Cup or the International Cricket Council Knockout Trophy Championships.
A minor misunderstanding had threatened the 10-nation championships when some club members wanted to know how it would gain after the cricket council had penned an agreement with the defunct Kenya Cricket Association to refurbish the Nairobi Gymkhana grounds to meet international standards.
Cancellation of the championships that involved the world’s top cricketing nations could have been an embarrassment for Kenya which was just gaining a foothold in international cricket.
Enter Mr Rao, who is credited with top-drawer negotiation and mediation skills and the games went on smoothly after he saved the day by bringing together Nairobi Gymkhana on one side and Kenya association and International Cricket Council on the other.
By the time the last ball was bowled, Mr Rao had gained a toehold, and recognition and currently, he is a Code of Conduct Commissioner with the council. He sits on panels which deliberate on issues that threaten to bring the game into disrepute.
In March this year, he sat on the disciplinary panel which suspended Kenyan umpire Hemant Desai who had allegedly breached Umpires Code of Conduct clause 1.6 which states “Umpires shall not engage in any conduct which is prejudicial to the game of cricket”.
Mr Desai had reportedly assaulted a ground staff shortly before an international match between Kenya and Ireland at the Mombasa Sports Club.
The matter was formally reported to Haroon Lorgat, the cricket council’s chief executive who authorised Cricket Kenya to investigate a potential breach of the umpires code of conduct.
It was in 2010 when Mr Rao got his biggest break when he was appointed — together with Justice Albie Sachs (who also sits on the judges vetting board) from South Africa and Queen’s counsel Michael Beloff of England — to a three-man tribunal that looked into the spot-fixing allegations levelled against Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, the three Pakistani players who were later banned for periods ranging between three and 10 years.
In 2009, Mr Rao was an independent adviser to Cricket Kenya Board inquiry into the allegations of misappropriation of funds against the then Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tom Tikolo. He was eventually replaced by Tom Sears who left mid this year after a two-year stint.