‘ICC CEO Sawhney faced 3-layered probe’

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Manu Sawhney, who has been told to go on leave over an ‘adverse’ internal report, was probed on three counts by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a top professional services firm, sources said.

Sawhney became the fifth Chief Executive of the ICC on April 1, 2019, succeeding David Richardson, a former South Africa Test wicket-keeper.

“PwC’s investigation of Sawhney was three-layered. The first step was at the level of the ICC executive board, which comprises the heads of the national cricket boards, or their nominees, of the Test playing countries and representatives of the ICC Associate Members,” a source told IANS.

“The second level of probe was the interviews of the ICC employees. And the third was an online general inquiry with the employees. For the third step, the employees were sent a form that they had to fill and return. A large majority of the employees filled this form,” he said.

The source also said that Sawhney’s relationship with the ICC employees was far from cordial.

“He would put a lot of pressure on the employees. He would, at times, ask them to deliver the assignment in a very short span of time. Due to this, and some other associated factors, some of the employees suffered from mental depression,” the source said.

“Some employees were unable to sustain the pressure, and around one-fifth of the employees were either asked to go or left on their own accord in the last two years or so. Among those who left were a couple of those who he brought into the ICC. He also created new posts,” the source claimed.

However, it seems the biggest reason for which Sawhney seems to be paying a price is that he allegedly sided with one of the two “groups” of member countries within the ICC. This, claimed the source, became apparent in the lead up to the acrimonious election for the ICC’s Independent Chair held in November.

“He virtually ‘campaigned’ for one of the groups, and backed its candidate, something that is not ethical, especially for a CEO,” the source said.

Greg Barclay was eventually elected as Independent Chair, succeeding Shashank Manohar of India.

Finally, a majority of employees complained about his behaviour and that led to the investigation.

“His actions in the lead up to the election antagonised one group, and the joint complaint of the employees was the proverbial last straw,” said the source.

It is, however, not known for how long Sawhney has been sent on leave. It is likely that the ICC might take a decision in his case at its next executive board meeting this month.

A product of the Delhi Public School (RK Puram), New Delhi, Sawhney is a mechanical engineer and MBA. He had worked for ITC Global Holdings, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, ESPN Star Sports, Singapore Sports Hub, and Manchester United, before joining the ICC on April 1, 2019.

“A senior executive with a strong entrepreneurial drive and proven success in leadership roles across multiple markets in identifying new business opportunities, key account management, innovative customer acquisition initiatives, developing strategic partnerships and business transformation to ensure profitable growth and value creation,” says Sawhney’s profile on LinkedIn.

“Recognised as an inspiring, collaborative leader with strong negotiating and influencing skills and ability to motivate and lead people in diverse cultural environments,” it says.