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Nepal cricket

July 18, 2013

Domestic cricket in Nepal needs a lifeline

Arun Upreti, Nepal

The Nepal team celebrates the fall of an Australian wicket, Australia v Nepal, Group A, ICC Under-19 World Cup 2012, Townsville, August 13, 2012
Nepal's domestic cricket structure needs an overhaul so that youth cricket in the country can thrive © ICC/Getty
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Nepal's ailing youth cricket showed its first symptoms when the Under-19 team finished third in 2009 ACC Elite Cup and failed to qualify for the U-19 World Cup in 2010. Before that, Nepal had featured in every edition of the U-19 World Cup since 2000. The youth side this year put up Nepal's worst performance, ending fourth in this year's ACC U-19 Elite Cup. Prior to this Nepal, had won the tournament four times in a row between 2001 to 2007. They finished third in 2009 and second in 2011. Will Nepal cricket take a big leap backward in the following years?

The transformation theory
The Nepal senior team hadn't had much success till a few years ago, but the U-19 side was winning hearts as early as 2000 when they beat Kenya and competed with South Africa to enter the second round of the U-19 World Cup. At that stage, everyone believed that when the U-19 team transformed into the senior side, Nepal would start achieving success at the senior level. And it did. Given that precedent, with a weak youth team (and a failed domestic structure), we will have a weaker senior side in 6-10 years.

The early symptoms: Decline in fast bowling
What is more disappointing for Nepal cricket is the realisation that the failure of the youth team could get hold of the senior team if nothing is done about it. Nepal's weakened fast-bowling attack is an early sign. The side had one of the best fast-bowling units amongst the non-Test playing nations with the likes of Mehboob Alam, Binod Das and Raju Khadka. However, in the past one year, Nepal's fast bowling has failed. Their performance was so disappointing that the team played without a front-line seam bowler in the last two matches of WCL Division 3.

Ageing team
Despite the absence of a strong domestic structure, the senior Nepali team was carefully built by Roy Dias who hand-picked and personally groomed players from the youth side. Players like Paras Khadka, Gyanendra Malla and Sharad Vesawkar, were already part of the senior team when they were still U-17 players. They would feature in matches for Nepal in the U-17, U-19 and senior teams, which helped their growth tremendously.

Now that we have good senior team, the 'youth first' policy doesn't fit anywhere. The youth side has been completely neglected. The U-19 team did not even have a proper practice camp before they flew for the ACC U-19 Elite cup.

In few years, age will catch up with the senior team. With the domestic structure neglected and Nepal's youth cricketers short on experience, the future doesn't look good at all.

What now?
If we do not give the young cricketers the attention they deserve, the success of Nepal cricket will be short-lived. With World Cup qualifiers so close, there's no point experimenting with the senior side. A good domestic structure can help groom young players, like Dias did when he involved them in the senior side.

One aspect that needs to be explored is school cricket. School cricket is played at an exceptionally high level in countries like India and Sri Lanka. In Nepal, however, it doesn't exist. Lack of cricket in schools is hindering cricket development in Nepal, making it difficult for kids to convince their parents about the feasibility of taking up the sport. Nepal hasn't had a single player in the senior side who has made it to the team solely on the basis of his performances in the national tournament. The team comprises players who have played for the country at the youth level.

Moreover, the players who excel in the game in their early or mid-20s never make it to the side and usually do not bother improving. Domestic cricket in Nepal needs serious restructuring, one that promotes young players so that the selectors can fall back on them when needed.

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Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 22, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

'CAN' should act professionally and seriously in developing domestic Cricket structure first, without strong domestic structure we are going nowhere and the present success of our team is due to the hard works of our players only. All of us can imagine what will be our future after the golden era of Mr. Paras Khadka & team if we don't start thinking seriously about future !!

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 21, 2013, 19:28 GMT)

The writer is correct in some aspects.But it is only the matter of time and some proper plan from CAN and other governing bodies that can greatly enhance the capabilities of the current junior teams. For this to happen in a better way in the future, It is important how the senior team take a ride in the present.

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 21, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

We only have a set of 20 odd good players. The domestic tournament, comprising one day and T20 lasts only a month and the other 9 months there is no cricket for the domestic players. The National team is now getting to train all year long which has helped their growth as professionals. The domestic cricket in Nepal has total cash prize of for 1225$ for the winning team. That's at times less than what player of the match receives in International matches.

If cricket is to sustain its success reconstructing a year long Cricket Tournament should be the first step. Despite all that the National Team is playing pretty well and probably that will not just motivate investors but also inspire young cricketers to take up the sport!

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 20, 2013, 13:22 GMT)

However the current 11 is still young and can achieve a lot. If they go to the higher levels, CAN will get more money and can invest in youth teams. Any way ur U19 team qualified for the 2012 WC and finished 13th ahead of zimbabwe. Dont worry too much about the future as of now.

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 20, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

I agreed with the fact that Nepali cricket needs serious restructuring in its domestic structure but how the writer serves the present context of Nepali cricket is totally negative point of view, there is always silver lining in the black clouds too. Nepal should capitalize on certain aspects like physical infrastructures, media coverage, development of neutral venue etc and I want to say that there are lots of positive aspects of how Nepali cricket is going on.

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 18, 2013, 17:43 GMT)

The major disappointment is the amount of effort put by CAN on domestic cricket be it in conducting adequate tournaments or grooming young players. But with senior team performing exceptionally well at senior level, it is still not too late to build a strong base of young players considering the future, especially in the pace department!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 18, 2013, 16:00 GMT)

Your view on Nepal's future 11 is acceptable and worries a lot. But still i believe in the craze for the sport in your country which will somehow keep the standards decently high. However the current 11 is still young and can achieve a lot. If they go to the higher levels, CAN will get more money and can invest in youth teams. Any way ur U19 team qualified for the 2012 WC and finished 13th ahead of zimbabwe. Dont worry too much about the future as of now.

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