If I think about Nepal as a country, naturally I would think about the highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest. Nepal is also a country, known for beautiful valleys, lakes and it is a great place for trekking. All such factors can arouse the interest of any tourist.
Cricket in Nepal
Leaving the geography of Nepal aside, Nepal is also fast becoming famous for its passion towards cricket. In the past, football was said to be the main sport in Nepal, but from whatever little I know about Nepal's cricket, the advent of private channels gave the chance for people of Nepal to watch international cricket as it slowly gained ground in the country and now it is the number one sport in Nepal.
Nepal became an associate member of ICC in 1996 and a lot was expected from them as one could see a lot of raw talent in Nepal, but compared to few other teams like Afghanistan, Nepal haven't progressed as much as expected. Yes, they recently qualified for division four of world cricket and have been reasonably strong at the junior level in Asia, but a lot more was expected of a team that has so much passion for cricket. It isn't like they don't have talented players as cricketers like Binod, Paras, Alam and co. are all said to be good players, but they perhaps haven't been able to progress due to the incompetence of the board.
For any team to succeed at the higher levels of cricket, a strong domestic structure is needed. For instance, Australia have been successful over the years because of a strong domestic structure. If I look at the various articles written on domestic cricket in Nepal, it seems like they don't have a good domestic structure. The problem usually with associate teams is, they don't play three day, or four day matches which is essential for a player's development as he can hone his skills in first class matches.
In Nepal too it looks like only T/20 matches and onedayers are held.They usually hold it during the monsoon and all the matches are cramped together in just a week or two. It is surely not the way to run a competition and it is even more worrying to see that selection for the national team is based on such competitions.
I have seen a few Nepal's cricket fans saying that cricket was organised better when it was run by the privateers and a few enthusiastic fans. I have also seen comments like once the board took over in 2000, a few tournaments have been scrapped.
For the players to develop their skills, they at least need the basic infrastructure, but going by what I saw on various blogs related to Nepal's cricket, one can safely say that it isn't the case.
Nepal's former player, Bardan Chalise about the infrastructure,
"Sports equipment: we have 2 old bowling machines. Players do not even get a full kit. Just a kit bag. National League: One national league. CAN do not organize any other tournaments and no one else is organizing any tournaments as well"
I have heard that they don't have many turf wickets nor, the board has an academy for the upcoming players to hone their skills. One academy has been started, but that is run by a former player called Amir Akthar.
Bardan Chalise on annual budget of Nepal's cricket board,
"CAN –annual budget of Rs. 68,213,244.
Rs 32,400,000 for infrastructure development, Rs. 19,683,190 for national leagues, sports equipment purchase and administrative costs and Rs. 16,130,054 will be spent for international participation and event hosting.
CAN has also requested for Rs. 15,112,500 for infrastructure development with ACC; Rs. 4,598,000 for the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 with Nepal Government and Rs. 3,300,000 for participation in SAG with National Sports Council"
If the above mentioned information is true, one can ask where is all the aid from ICC and ACC going? Most former players and fans in Nepal say that there is no infrastructure for cricketers to develop their skills, but the Nepal board is showing that they are spending a lot for developing cricket.
Nepal's national team
It is good to see that Nepal has qualified for the fourth division, but a lot more has to be done for the welfare of the players. The general feeling is, Nepal's players get a pittance, as it is said that they get less than one dollar per match. Actually, the Nepal's team led by their captain, Paras recently went on a strike as the board wasn't doing much with regards to welfare of the players and for the development of cricket in Nepal. In the end, the players agreed to call off the strike, as a new committee was set up to look into the development of cricket in Nepal.
The captain of the side, Paras on the committee,
"We agreed to form a seven-member committee including three players, three CAN officials and a coach which will bridge the gap between board and players,”
It would be interesting to see whether the new committee would look at developing cricket in Nepal or is it just an eye-wash by the board. It is no wonder that a few of their players like Bardan, Kanishka, Bataju, Pradhan and co. have left playing cricket and even their present captain, Paras is said to be thinking of pursuing his studies abroad. I also saw a few, who regularly watch Nepal play cricket say that players lack fitness and that may again indicate to lack of back up support for the players.
It is sad to see that there is so much passion for cricket in Nepal, but they haven't been able to perform as well as expected. Just raw talent won't help, but for Nepal to do well in cricket, they need better infrastructure. One can change numerous coaches or captains at the national level, but any team can progress, only if they look at improving cricket at the grassroots level.
(If not for a few Nepal's fans at cricket Nepal website, I wouldn't have been able to write this blog as I got a lot of the above mentioned information from them. So, I would like to thank the fans of cricket Nepal website)
Finally, the below mentioned video shows the passion for cricket in Nepal.