Nepal cricket March 18, 2014

Cricket-mad Nepal faces infrastructure challenges

Cricket's popularity is growing in Nepal but the country faces problems of infrastructure and the lack of a first-class competition
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Nepal's maiden World T20 appearance is the culmination of a long and difficult journey, and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) is hoping Paras Khadka's side will continue to raise the profile of a game that is quickly gaining popularity in the country.

"The performance of our side has instilled a sense of pride among people in the country and fans of the game," Ashok Nath Pyakuryal, the secretary of CAN, said. "Football is one of the more popular games in the country, but the side's recent wins have boosted cricket's profile and also attracted funds towards the game."

The boost to cricket's popularity in Nepal was perhaps most visible when the team qualified for the World T20 in November 2013 and fans thronged the airport to greet the side that finished third in the World T20 Qualifier. In the ACC Twenty20 Cup, the qualifying tournament for 2013 World T20 Qualifier, Nepal made it to the final before losing to Afghanistan. The senior team also had another memorable achievement in 2013, when they finished at the top of the World Cricket League Division Three, three years after starting out in Division Five.

Like for most Affiliate and Associate Members, infrastructure remains one of the biggest challenges for Nepal. In their case, however, that problem is compounded by geography, because a substantial part of the country is home to the Himalayan mountain ranges.

"Nepal has a geographical mix and the Terai (plain) region is the most significant cricketing area within the country," Pyakuryal said. "Cricket culture in the mountain side of the country is low because infrastructure has still not developed as it has in the plains, which also border India. Most players come from that region but gradually, a few players are also coming through from the mountain region."

Nepal's recent performances prompted the government to support the development of the game but according to Pyakuryal its role is mostly restricted to infrastructure. The ACC and the ICC also provide financial assistance, and the ICC provided CAN with a high-performance plan for T20 cricket. The problem is that most of these funds are moved to the development of grounds and coaching facilities. In such a scenario, for CAN, finding sponsors for domestic tournaments is a challenge.

"We qualified for the World T20 but there is a shortage of resources. The problem with certain grants that come in is that they offer help to the team only at international competitions," he said. "Our concern is the shortage of resources at the domestic level. The amount of money that comes in from sponsors at the domestic level is not large and we often have to rely on internal resources. The funds that come in from the government can be used for infrastructure development.

"We don't have stadiums such as the ones in India. But we have a few good grounds in Kathmandu and we have regularly hosted international tournaments of the ACC and the ICC. The plan is to have at least a ground in each region. The government is also helping develop grounds - in the eastern and western parts of the country and in Kathmandu."

One of Nepal's first major cricketing achievements, which brought the young team into the spotlight, was their win in the Plate Championship of the 2006 Under-19 World Cup. The core of the present team has risen through age-group cricket and that has made for a healthy team spirit.

"Our biggest strength would be our team spirit," Khadka, Nepal's captain, said. "We have amazing camaraderie amongst all our players. Most of us have come up through the junior ranks and we have played the junior World Cups as well, but this is the biggest stage of all. Some of us have been part of wins against Test-playing teams at the Under-19 level as well. We want to take all the positives in the past and do well in this tournament."

Lately, however, Nepal's age-group teams have not been able to keep up their performances. The lack of bench strength is a concern and CAN has been sending teams to India for various club tournaments to improve performances.

"The advent of television and the success of the team in the last four-five years have helped the game grow all over Nepal. Kids are now actively taking up cricket which is a good sign," he said. "But there is a concern over the bench strength for the senior team, specifically the Under-16 and Under-19 teams. Along with the government's sports council, we are looking to develop cricket at three levels - inter-school, college and university.

"The Under-19 team has also been participating in a few club-level competitions in India, and they visited Benaras recently for a tournament. A few teams from Nepal have also participated in local competitions in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai."

Apart from improving infrastructure, CAN is also working on developing a first-class competition. Currently, the domestic structure follows club, district and regional progression and nearly 12 teams participate at the national level. The competitions, however, are only one-dayers and T20s.

"Earlier, the semi-finals and finals of our major tournaments used to be played over two days," Pyakuryal says. "But that stopped. We are now contemplating a two-day format in domestic cricket at the regional and national levels."

CAN is also developing its national cricket academy. Pyakuryal said there were different programmes for school and Under-16 levels and the academy acted as a nodal body for other regional academies. Pubudu Dassanayake, the former Sri Lanka Test cricketer who took over as Nepal coach in 2011, also oversees the training of coaches in the country Dassanayake, who succeeded another former Sri Lanka cricketer, Roy Dias, has been widely credited with helping the team get more results.

The success of Nepal's Asian neighbours has also boosted the game - a fact both Khadka and Pyakuryal acknowledge. "We are in the South Asian community where India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - all these countries are pretty close to each other," Khadka told mediapersons in Chittagong. "All the TV channels we get back home are full of cricket."

Pyakuryal also agreed. "The India and Pakistan teams are followed very keenly and the rise of Indian cricket has also helped the game in Nepal."

Irrespective of their performances, one of the few things Nepal has been able to rely on is a fan following comparable to those enjoyed by their subcontinent neighbours. The internet has added to the legion of their followers. Khadka stresses that the team realises that their World Cup performance is important not just for the fans but also for the next generation of cricketers in Nepal.

"People get in touch mostly through social media," Khadka said. "On my personal Facebook, and Twitter page, there are messages like, 'We need to do well,' and 'Inspite of whatever happens, you guys have made the country proud.' But we as cricketers want to do well and set a mark for our generations to follow. Nepal is heading in the right way in terms of cricket - fan following, cricket structure-wise. If we put up a good performance, it will not only help the current generation of players but also the future generations to take up the game."

Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 23, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    well done nepal we will be one of the best team of asia

  • on March 22, 2014, 12:04 GMT

    Nice comments about Nepali Team

  • Manu4 on March 20, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Nepal has done so well without any major help from ICC. If Nepal had the support that Bangladesh got, then it would be much better. Bangladesh is like a spoilt child of the associates- over the last 15 years they have been funded, allowed to host prestigious tournaments and allowed to tour major countries. And yet, besides a few upsets here and there, they have no major improvement. If the ICC had spent similar money on Ireland, Netherland or Nepal, we would have another exciting and strong team to contend with.

  • on March 20, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    it was unfortunate for nepal that B'desh was kept in super 10, and in their group. They're at the level of deserving WC'T20 trophy. All the best B'desh for next round, break the hearts of the so called cricketing giants.

  • on March 20, 2014, 2:57 GMT

    Over the past decade, I had come to believe that international cricket was all about fame, fortune and match-fixing scandals. It only took 2 games from #NepalCricketTeam to remind me that this sport is more about pride, passion, humility and love of the game. #GentlemansGame

  • on March 19, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    our players played well in t20 worldcup...it is our first time but we already show our experiance of cricket...it was really awesome...we are proud of our nepali team...love you all players

  • on March 19, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    I hope all these international media attention of Nepal cricket would encourage ICC and Asian Cricket Council(ACC) to support Nepal cricket more. I know all the development of cricket in Nepal is not possible solely through Cricket Association of Nepal(CAN), so ICC and ACC should rise up to help improve Nepal cricket.

  • on March 19, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    one day will be 1st rank cricket team.best of luck for next challenges

  • WahidOrnob2 on March 19, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    Everything are pretty okay. Nepal is right way....... Now they need Proper guideline, Cricket Academy, Think-tank, more stadium, Game loving (especially cricket) committees, Facilities for the cricketers and opportunities. Nepal has huge cricket fans so ICC should make a plan about Development of Nepal Cricket because only then ICC will get a huge market over there.

  • on March 19, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    happy to see positive comments :) . and happy for all our Nepalese players and supporters. Bangladesh has struggled a lot in past years and we have a lot to struggle in coming years .. i am happy and feeling +ve

  • on March 23, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    well done nepal we will be one of the best team of asia

  • on March 22, 2014, 12:04 GMT

    Nice comments about Nepali Team

  • Manu4 on March 20, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Nepal has done so well without any major help from ICC. If Nepal had the support that Bangladesh got, then it would be much better. Bangladesh is like a spoilt child of the associates- over the last 15 years they have been funded, allowed to host prestigious tournaments and allowed to tour major countries. And yet, besides a few upsets here and there, they have no major improvement. If the ICC had spent similar money on Ireland, Netherland or Nepal, we would have another exciting and strong team to contend with.

  • on March 20, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    it was unfortunate for nepal that B'desh was kept in super 10, and in their group. They're at the level of deserving WC'T20 trophy. All the best B'desh for next round, break the hearts of the so called cricketing giants.

  • on March 20, 2014, 2:57 GMT

    Over the past decade, I had come to believe that international cricket was all about fame, fortune and match-fixing scandals. It only took 2 games from #NepalCricketTeam to remind me that this sport is more about pride, passion, humility and love of the game. #GentlemansGame

  • on March 19, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    our players played well in t20 worldcup...it is our first time but we already show our experiance of cricket...it was really awesome...we are proud of our nepali team...love you all players

  • on March 19, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    I hope all these international media attention of Nepal cricket would encourage ICC and Asian Cricket Council(ACC) to support Nepal cricket more. I know all the development of cricket in Nepal is not possible solely through Cricket Association of Nepal(CAN), so ICC and ACC should rise up to help improve Nepal cricket.

  • on March 19, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    one day will be 1st rank cricket team.best of luck for next challenges

  • WahidOrnob2 on March 19, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    Everything are pretty okay. Nepal is right way....... Now they need Proper guideline, Cricket Academy, Think-tank, more stadium, Game loving (especially cricket) committees, Facilities for the cricketers and opportunities. Nepal has huge cricket fans so ICC should make a plan about Development of Nepal Cricket because only then ICC will get a huge market over there.

  • on March 19, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    happy to see positive comments :) . and happy for all our Nepalese players and supporters. Bangladesh has struggled a lot in past years and we have a lot to struggle in coming years .. i am happy and feeling +ve

  • Uhmrace on March 19, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    Despite lacking infra structures and enough support from government and CAN, Nepali Cricket Team have done well so far .... what we lack is exposure and regular tournaments to keep players busy . CAN should ask for support from BCB , PCB and Sri lanka Cricket Board .... Jay Nepal !! Jay Nepali Cricket !!!

  • Rafelgibt on March 19, 2014, 6:13 GMT

    Nepalis people are as humble as the people of Bangladesh.They are not like the arrogant AFGHANs; so Nepalis progression is bound to happen.Wishing you all the very best from a die hard BAN fan....

  • on March 19, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    yes Nepal was out played by the class of Bangladesh but the matter of fact is that,both Bangladesh and Nepal are the winners....because Bangladesh showed ICC and BCCI that they are a world class cricketing nation and it was a wrong decision of ICC and its driving forces(mainly Indians) to put a World cup host nation in qualifiers...if Bangladesh did not have qualified for Super10... world cup would have ended before it started.....and for Nepal they put up a real good fight,presented their brand of cricket and knocked the doors of international cricketing world that they are right here for the competition...................so its a win win situation for both bangladesh and nepal and the only one loser is ICC and indian board BCCi,who doesnt wants cricket to be developed outside india coz they fear to lose to Nations like nepal and bangladesh

  • on March 19, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Until Nepal builds proper infrastructure Nepal should get help from Bangladesh cricket board and srilanka cricket board

  • RED-TIGER on March 18, 2014, 22:26 GMT

    I have so many Nepali friends whom I tease and love!!!, I hope all the best in the future cricket of Nepal, and I must say this is very good to see how welcomed atmosphere the Bangladeshi's providing.. oh and feel free to use many of our stadiums whilst yours get built..

  • juptar on March 18, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    exactly what we need is infrastructure development in our country. resource and infrastructure is where we are lacking for better prospect of cricket. hope this performance in world stage could make quite difference.

  • rony1008 on March 18, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    Nepal's passionate fans remind me of our own fans in Bangladesh. I know there is a long way to go, but hopefully Nepal cricket will go a long way and with the support of the fans back home, they will grow as a cricketing nations. I hope fans from other countries specially fans from the so called big nations will not bash them like they do with minnows like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe.

    Big nations has been playing for such a long time and its a pity that their fans get so arrogant. My best wishes to Nepal cricket and their fans, and I hope with dedication and humility, they become a cricketing giant.

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    Nepal played better than how my team Bangladesh played their first ever game. if properly nurtured, they will bring glory to their country. this team will go far and far in next 10 years. great wishes from Bangladesh.

    Nets are good way to start in shortage of stadium.. need to set up at least 2 academy in Nepal.

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    hope they will rise as new cricketing nation of sub-continent and will pass afghanistan...best of luck Nepal for their future

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:11 GMT

    yes this is a bitter truth a lot of personnel s and high level officers have to be questioned on this matter.....players have done all they can do with their abilities and capacities...its nation times to think about it fastly n quickly

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    I think ICC should help to build a stadium in Nepal as soon as possible. Nepal is very passionate about cricket which is good to see.

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    It's a welcome sight for our national team to get into World T20s despite of the lack of infrastructures here. I went to watch the first stepping stone into the Wt20 qualifiers during ACC T20 Cup in a stadium full of 25,000 enthusiastic supporters and it means a lot for Nepali sports fans that the team has progressed this well in a short period of time as compared to other cricketing nations. Yet, to progress, lots of things have to be sorted out and if ICC lets the Associate nations play regularly in the big competitions, I'm sure the level of cricket will automatically improve in the coming days.

  • on March 18, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    Yes suraj hope so. We want at least 4 studios

  • on March 18, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    Stadium is main issue for us.Government is feeling heat at the very moment and taking it's steps in this area.Hope we can get a big move from government to build 2-3 international quality stadium in this year after this T20 wcup.

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  • on March 18, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    Stadium is main issue for us.Government is feeling heat at the very moment and taking it's steps in this area.Hope we can get a big move from government to build 2-3 international quality stadium in this year after this T20 wcup.

  • on March 18, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    Yes suraj hope so. We want at least 4 studios

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    It's a welcome sight for our national team to get into World T20s despite of the lack of infrastructures here. I went to watch the first stepping stone into the Wt20 qualifiers during ACC T20 Cup in a stadium full of 25,000 enthusiastic supporters and it means a lot for Nepali sports fans that the team has progressed this well in a short period of time as compared to other cricketing nations. Yet, to progress, lots of things have to be sorted out and if ICC lets the Associate nations play regularly in the big competitions, I'm sure the level of cricket will automatically improve in the coming days.

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    I think ICC should help to build a stadium in Nepal as soon as possible. Nepal is very passionate about cricket which is good to see.

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:11 GMT

    yes this is a bitter truth a lot of personnel s and high level officers have to be questioned on this matter.....players have done all they can do with their abilities and capacities...its nation times to think about it fastly n quickly

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    hope they will rise as new cricketing nation of sub-continent and will pass afghanistan...best of luck Nepal for their future

  • on March 18, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    Nepal played better than how my team Bangladesh played their first ever game. if properly nurtured, they will bring glory to their country. this team will go far and far in next 10 years. great wishes from Bangladesh.

    Nets are good way to start in shortage of stadium.. need to set up at least 2 academy in Nepal.

  • rony1008 on March 18, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    Nepal's passionate fans remind me of our own fans in Bangladesh. I know there is a long way to go, but hopefully Nepal cricket will go a long way and with the support of the fans back home, they will grow as a cricketing nations. I hope fans from other countries specially fans from the so called big nations will not bash them like they do with minnows like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe.

    Big nations has been playing for such a long time and its a pity that their fans get so arrogant. My best wishes to Nepal cricket and their fans, and I hope with dedication and humility, they become a cricketing giant.

  • juptar on March 18, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    exactly what we need is infrastructure development in our country. resource and infrastructure is where we are lacking for better prospect of cricket. hope this performance in world stage could make quite difference.

  • RED-TIGER on March 18, 2014, 22:26 GMT

    I have so many Nepali friends whom I tease and love!!!, I hope all the best in the future cricket of Nepal, and I must say this is very good to see how welcomed atmosphere the Bangladeshi's providing.. oh and feel free to use many of our stadiums whilst yours get built..