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|Beach cricket, Nepal style © Alan Curr|
Beach cricket is not something many associate with a landlocked country, but at the Riverside Springs Resort, Nepal this weekend that is just what happened.
It is the second competition of its kind this year, following on from the inaugural event in 2009. In that first edition there were eight teams competing, while this year 34 teams played over the two weekends.
This is a sure sign that cricket in Nepal is growing and comes immediately after the national side won the World Cricket League Division 5 on home turf in February, and followed that up with a runners-up spot in the Asian Cricket Council Championship last month.
The event is the brainchild of former international Aamir Akhtar and his Shangri-La Cricket Academy. Aamir said: “People in this country are passionate about the game, but they rarely get a chance to play in any kind of competitive environment.
“We are delighted with the success so far but wish to make it bigger and better. This year we had celebrity actress Namrata Shrestha as an ambassador which adds great glamour and gives an extra incentive for the boys to perform!”
The slogan for Beach Cricket is 'Serious Fun' and I was amazed at just how seriously many people took the five-a-side competition, played over five overs. There was plenty of diving in the outfield and long bowling run-ups, along with the odd thrown bat after a dismissal.
Winning captain Monish Shrestha from SBI Bank said that is was the kind of competitive cricket he had missed since he finished playing seriously seven years ago, and would very keen to come back next year.
One man who will definitely be back next year is Sandip Kalfe who has taken part in all three competitions and said: “I just love cricket, I would do this every weekend if I could.”
It’s very encouraging that there are people working hard to get others playing the game in Nepal. While the standard was patchy, there were a few current internationals on show and the commitment and enthusiasm was a delight to behold. Long may it continue.
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Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.