Dilawar Mani has stepped down as chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) after completing a three-year tenure. Mani has also relinquished his post as executive director of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Club (ADCC).
On the surface, the development is a surprising one not only because there had been no hint about his stepping down, but also for the sense that there was still much left to achieve. But Mani insisted there was no motive behind it other than a simple desire to move on.
“Constitutionally the term for the CEO is three years and that was up in May so I asked not to be nominated again,” Mani said.
“Three years is enough in that position. Somebody else needs to come in and move things forward.”
Mani became the board’s first-ever chief executive after a new constitution was formed in 2009, and sought to bring greater transparency and coherence to the administration of the game. He benefitted from the security situation in Pakistan, which around the same time he was appointed meant international matches could not take place there.
Mani worked to make the UAE a home for Pakistan, hosting six international series here since 2009.
He also ensured the regular presence of county and university sides from England, as well as making the UAE a first-choice venue for various ICC and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) events.
This year, the UAE staged the World Twenty20 qualifiers and will do again next year; in 2014 it will host the U19 World Cup.
Mani, who announced his intention at a board meeting on June 7, said much remained to be done. “We’ve developed a very good strategic path to move forward. We’ve achieved a lot in that time, full of milestones and the profile has been raised substantially, so I’m very proud of whatever little I have achieved.”
The infrastructure of the game became more robust under Mani. Though the academy in Abu Dhabi was already running, it became better organised, with greater facilities and grounds.
He also revived schools cricket in Abu Dhabi and ensured that the club cricket scene thrived through the Emirates.
And though results were not forthcoming, the national team became better organised, Mani particularly proud of being able to put in long-term contracts for coaches; the arrival of Aaqib Javed, the highest-profile coach the UAE has had, was an undisputed coup.
“We’ve got a great team at the moment and a very supportive board,” Mani said. “Young blood is being brought in, we’ve got a great coach and the team is performing well.”
As well as helping bring Sharjah back as a venue, other plans were also in place. And he was working on a scheme to provide scholarships to young talent so they could concentrate on cricket full-time and not be lost to the UAE to academics or employment.
“The things we put into place, we did a good job all round. We now have players on salary, we have got the highest quality coach, who is very keen on their fitness. We’re trying to improve the U19 side, trying to bring nationals into the game. Grassroots cricket, the academy is all under way.”
The board of directors will now seek out possible replacements, with the final approval coming from the board chairman, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. Mani has been asked to continue until they find a successor, though effectively his involvement has finished.