Matters of Cricket
Popularity of Cricket in Nepal has been growing at an astounding pace and the cricket fever has gripped people from all generations and all walks of life. On the road to its notable achievements, the cricket team has reached and played in the highest levels of cricket in the limited overs format i.e. in the ICC World T20.This has indeed been an unbelievable success in the history of Nepali sports since Nepal’s appearance in the World Cup Cricket has come in a period of just 17 years after it started participating in the international tournaments. Given the level of competition at international levels, this achievement shows the passion, determination and hard-work of the Nepali cricketers.
It is also important to assess under what kind of circumstances and arrangements the players have been playing and bringing medals for the country by defeating many strong rivals. A cursory assessment reveals that the status of infrastructure for this game has been pathetic in the country and so are the efforts of the Government and other concerned authorities. We have a single International Cricket Stadium in Kirtipur which is also undeserving to be called an international cricket stadium in many counts. Blessed with perhaps the best climate in the entire world, this stadium lacks even the basic facilities and a general appearance of an international cricket stadium. Another important requirement for sustained progress in cricket is the strong domestic structure and regular internal competitions. This provides the foundation for developing a competent and versatile team as this would offer platform to the young cricketers to showcase their talent so as to ensure that the talent reaches the national level. It also helps create a healthy environment where the young cricketers are inspired to develop their skills and competencies to secure their spot in the national team. These first-class competitions would also help in correcting the weaknesses and fine tuning the skills and abilities of the senior players who run out-of-form in the national team.
Though the team has made some remarkable achievements in the short span, there still needs a lot to be achieved. We still have to acquire test-playing nation status and have to present ourselves as a consistent and formidable side to the strong cricket teams in the world. To march ahead towards this direction, one of the biggest challenges has been the poor exposure of the team against strong test-playing nations like Australia, South Africa, India, Sri-Lanka and so on. Taking note of the rapid progress made by the Nepali team, craze of the game and exciting & passionate crowds in Nepal, the International Cricket Association (ICC) has appeared very keen and supportive for augmenting cricket activities in the country. In recent years, UAE and other countries are being chosen by the ICC as a venue for many bilateral and multilateral series despite quite hot and troublesome climate there. If we had at least one international standard cricket stadium in all five development regions of the country, Nepal could have been preferred by the ICC to host these kinds of tournaments including the Asia-Cup. The ICC and other cricket agencies must have eyed Nepal as a suitable weather venue in the subcontinent region and the naturally blessed Nepali cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi among others would surely attract the cricketers and audience from around the globe. When the match between India and Pakistan and other multi-lateral series involving these two countries are not being happening due to some reasons, Nepal could have been an appropriate neutral venue to host these kinds of series. This, in turn, could promote greatly the sports tourism in the country.
The genuine concerns expressed by the ICC regarding the problems in the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) have to be addressed at the earliest without making it political issue and we should be able to give a strong message to the global cricket community on our sincerity and determination to promote the game. Moreover, CAN must be made an apolitical body having an independent stature. We have to learn from our neighbors like Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka which have set the examples of having made tremendous progress in international cricket in a short period of time through the right policies and effective implementation.
Today all cricket-loving Nepali people know that wherever Nepali cricket has reached is only due to the hard-work and dedication of the players. The achievements Nepali cricket has made in comparison to the facilities provided to the players have been outstanding. What else we lack to promote this game in a country where we feel proud for having dedicated and industrious players, ever increasing popularity of the game, huge fan-following, perfect weather conditions to host the tournaments and vast prospects of promoting the sports tourism?
Congratulating players and outpouring pride when the team wins is not enough to further excel this game; the concerned authorities must fulfill their prime duties of infrastructure development, motivating the players, inspiring new talents to join this sports and coordinating with the ICC and the cricket boards of various countries to promote Nepal as an equipped, safe, perfect-weather and great venue to host the regional and international tournaments. Expressing pride and patriotism by the responsible agencies and officials shall be justified only through their honest and sincere efforts for promoting the game.
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