Administrative hurdles to Nepal becoming top-flight Associate - Dassanayake
Pubudu Dassanayake, the former Nepal coach, believes the side's current crop of players led by Paras Khadka have the ability to be a top-flight Associate alongside Ireland and Afghanistan provided the country's administrative issues are resolved.
"With Nepal, I'm glad that I brought them from Division Four to Division One," Dassanayake told ESPNcricinfo during a recent interview in the USA, where he has been shortlisted as a leading candidate for the USA coaching job. "There are great moments like when we qualified for the 2014 World T20 but I still feel that team is capable of being in the Ireland or Afghanistan level.
"I personally feel that if the environment was right, I would have taken this team into another level but with the set-up they had I am satisfied with where they are right now."
Dassanayake coached Nepal from 2011 through last December before stepping down from the role. He has been at the forefront of several highs, like helping them climb up the World Cricket League ladder from Division Four in Malaysia in 2012 all the way up to the top division in the WCL Championship. The biggest highlight of his stint, however, was their maiden World T20 appearance in 2014, where they beat Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
He briefly came back on a consultancy basis, coaching the team to two wins in the WCL Championship over Namibia in April. He also worked with the side during their tour of the UK which included a historic win over the MCC at Lord's, which he says was a great experience in their build-up to two crucial WCL Championship matches against Netherlands.
"Of course everybody was excited to play in that ground, and feel that set-up, but it was actually beyond what I thought," Dassanayake said of the MCC game at Lord's. "It was a great atmosphere with around 5000 Nepalese watching and cheering the team. Even though it was just another game of cricket, I think that atmosphere really had a big effect on the Nepal team. For an Associate, getting that experience will really help raise their game to the next level."
Nepal currently sit in sixth place with four points on the WCL Championship table, six behind leaders Netherlands. Dassanayake, who returned to Canada after his consultancy stint, praised the players' work ethic which he thought helped build a bond. However, he also expressed concern at the ongoing administrative upheavals in view of government interference in the board, which included an ICC suspension in April.
"We had lots of issues on the way in the last four or five years," Dassanayake said. "But at the same time currently the team has reached a certain level. For them to push into the next level, they need the background, they need the domestic cricket structure apart from parallel work off the field. I hope that ICC really is getting involved in that system and puts things together.
"Nepal, I think what I had to do I did for them for four or five years. They have some great players, the captain and some of the senior players, they know what it takes to go to the next level and I personally feel that somebody else can help that process. Currently, everybody is in the dark with the administration side because that has to be settled for them to hire a coach so that process will take time."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna