Cricketers need to step up

Whenever and wherever Nepal’s national team participates in a major sporting event, expectations are always high back home. The team’s performance obviously becomes the subject of interest and intense debate as well.

Speaking of performances and accomplishments, there is a striking similarity between the national cricket team and the national football team of Nepal. Going by the numbers, it would be fair to say that both teams have under-performed, over the years.

As evidenced by the statistics, they have been very inconsistent and struggled mightily in international competitions. The story is one of despair.

It is crystal clear that a combination of increasing politicization of association, pathetic state of infrastructure, absence of grassroots level development, lack of adequate institutional support and planning, coupled with limited international exposure have dramatically slowed the growth and development of the two most popular sports in the country.

Regardless of the situation, cricket popularity continues to grow by the day. The craze for the game is noticeable across the country, and there are now more and more youngsters developing an interest in the game.

Everyone agrees that there is no dearth of talent in the country. Our success, especially in age-group tournaments is an indication that we have the potential to reach the higher and greater echelons of success.

However, the future of Nepali cricket is in the hands of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) that needs to rise above the fray to fulfill its obligations and duties. For now, we will have to wait and see how things go.

Let me focus on our senior cricketers who are desperately in search of a championship ring that has eluded them for years.

They had a golden opportunity to resurrect themselves at the ICC World Cup Twenty20 Qualifiers held in the United Arab Emirates not long ago, but they squandered the chance yet again. At the end of the day, they managed a very disappointing seventh position.

Interestingly the build-up for the competition was pretty decent. The team played a string of warm–up matches in India and seemed poised for success. They made a promising start, winning two successive matches against Hong Kong and Denmark.

Unfortunately, they again failed to deliver when it mattered most against Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea. Though they bounced back with a win over Bermuda, they sealed their fate, losing to the Netherlands and Canada.

By and large, admittedly the team put together another lackluster performance. The team lacked consistency and failed as a batting unit at a crucial juncture.

Skipper Paras Khadkha and Shakti Gauchan stole the batting and bowling honor for Nepal respectively. Khadkha accumulated 254 runs, while Gauchan scalped 16 wickets. The ESPN CricInfo also named the two in the Best XI of ICC World Twenty20 Cup qualifiers.

The two hogged the headlines further. First, it was Gauchan’s trip to Jaipur for Indian Premier League outfit Rajasthan Royals’ trials, followed by Khadkha’s newfound team Ontario Cricket Club and Academy, Canada.

All in all, a very positive sign. This is only the beginning and hopefully, such opportunities keep coming by for our players Nevertheless, it should motivate everyone involved in the game.

It is easy for me to vent my views and frustrations from the confines of my home, however, at the same time players must step up to the challenge no matter what. They must put in every bit of their extra effort and make it happen.

Afghanistan’s dramatic progress in international cricket in the last five years is mind-boggling. From Division five of the World Cricket League, they have made it to Division one. In the Twenty20 version, they have an equally impressive track record.

It is hard to believe that Afghanistan, a war-torn country, with poor infrastructure (worse off than us) is able to do what we have not done. They stand a shining example, and we should take cues from them.