Cricketers Need More than Cash Rewards and “Congratulations!”

By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA
Looking at the sport budget allocated by the government for the new fiscal year, cricket benefited the most. A significant chunk of the budget has gone to cricket and not football for the first time.

Does this surprise you? I reckon this is a big surprise to most sports aficionados in the country. The decision to invest more money in cricket is encouraging, heartening and should be viewed positively.

The government has finally acted sensibly; however, it is only a small drop in the ocean. They must play a bigger, more vigorous, important, substantial role in cricket development at both national, international levels.

In fact, all these years, despite the national and youth teams’ strong performance on the field, cricket has never got the kind of attention it deserved in terms of fund, support from the government.

Nepal cricket has been around for a fairly long time; however, the present state of the game remains depressing and far from wanting. In other words, it is languishing like never seen before.

It is worth mentioning the bitter truth that we still lack basic facilities like pitches,infrastructure, quality coaching, training equipment and finance.

We have witnessed frequent changes in Cricket Association of Nepal’s (CAN) setup and leadership, unfortunately, very little has changed for good.

The cricket governing body responsible for the development of cricket has been a huge let down. We had inept people like Jay Kumar Nath Shah, Binay Raj Pandey and Tanka Angbhuhang at the helm of CAN for well over half a century that lacked a vision and commitment.

They were a total failure and failed to bring about meaningful development and desired transformation in Nepal cricket as envisaged.

In retrospect, the leadership was plagued by bad governance, bureaucratic incompetency, mismanagement, corruption and dishonesty.

To this day, CAN continue to lack leadership, professionalism, structure and transparency. We are yet to find the right person who is fully professional, dedicated and can contribute to the long term cause of cricket.

Much has been said and written about what ails the sport and what should be done to enhance and change the landscape of Nepal cricket. Sadly all suggestions have largely fallen on deaf ears.

In recent years, the national team’s good run in international tournaments cemented the fact that Nepal has the potential to become a force to reckon with in global cricket. We have always believed this to be true for a very, very long period of time.

Team Nepal further proved themselves on the international stage, following their outstanding performance at the Twenty/20 World Cup in Bangladesh last year.

The team’s superb performance was well received by fans across the country, trumpeted by the media and politicians, and the government quickly pledged handsome financial rewards. All of a sudden, there was a renewed sense of optimism in the air.

However, after the dust settled, there were no indications that Nepal cricket was changing for the better much to our dismay. And it did turn out to be only false hopes.

Of late we have witnessed a series of controversies, one after another, bringing more uncertainty and undermining the integrity of cricket.

Issues with organizing the first Twenty/Twenty leg of the Nepal Premier League (NPL), no-confidence motion against president of CAN-Mr. Tanka Angbhuhang, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority’s(CIAA) filing charge sheet against 10 CAN official for financial irregularities, issues with coach Dassanayake’s term extension, sponsorship and many more, have exposed how cricket is run in this country.

This is a classic example of poor governance, incompetence, and mismanagement of the highest order. The International Cricket Council (ICC) added oil to the fire, denying Nepal the opportunity to host the ICC Division 3 tournament.

Frustrated, angered by the turn of events national players led by skipper Paras Khadkha were left with no option but revolt against CAN.

They did the right thing because things had gone from bad to worse. Everyone agrees that under Mr. Angbhuhang’s (handpicked by the Maoist government) leadership the cricket body had been a total disaster.

The grim state of cricket in the country has not deterred wannabe cricketers. In fact, they do not appear the least bit discouraged. It is their pure passion and love for the game that motivates them to play the game.

The latest success of our Under-16 team in the ACC U-16 Premier League completion in Malaysia provides ample evidence that no matter what aspiring cricketers will continue to play in pursuit of their dreams.

By the way Nepal has become the only country in the region to have won every age-group tournament organized by the Asian Cricket Council. This is an incredible feat. Is the government aware of it? I very much doubt.

Nepal cricket needs more than just congratulatory message from the Prime Minister and cash prizes announced by the government to each member of the victorious team.

We have gotten so used to seeing this that it has become meaningless, and it has not helped the cause of cricket a bit. Unless the government acquires the political will to get serious about cricket development and get things done, I fear cricket will continue to stagnant.

The government must step up and play a constructive role in forcing the cricket body to become accountable, transparent in their day to day functioning.