(Based on an email conversation with Madhu Poudyal, head of Corp Communication and Public Relations of Chaudhary Group)
Nepal Cricket Team recruited legion of new fans with their spirited show in the T20 World Cup. But that alone will not help Nepal’s Cricket take any flight. Money has always been the biggest issues with Cricket in Nepal. A cricketing board which allocates just over a thousand dollars as cash prize for the team that wins the national tournament, evidently, doesn’t have enough bank balance to build necessary infrastructures like stadiums and pitches.
While Nepal cricket has been going through money crunch, Chaudhary Group(CG), the wealthiest company in Nepal believes Cricket in Nepal could be a source of billions. With that in mind Binod Chaudhary-chairman of CG and Nepal´s only billionaire listed on the Forbes magazine-announced that they are ready to build a cricket stadium of “international standard” in a press meet 3 days back. A stadium of such quality requires prodigious amount of investment.For instance Subrata Roy Shahara stadium, the home ground of once an IPL franchise Pune Warriors, cost USD$49 million. And CG believes that Cricket in Nepal has capacity to give that back.
“Yes! we do believe Cricket in Nepal has potential to give back such massive amounts. In fact we say we have the potential to grow as International Cricketing Hub like Sharjah(Cricket Association Stadium) of 80s”, points out Madhu Poudyal, head of Corp Communication and Public Relations Department of Chaudhary Group.
Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in United Arab Emirates was the most popular cricket hubs in the world in late 20th century. From 1985-2001 it hosted 26 International Tournaments all involving several test nations. With match fixing allegations in the turn of the millennium International Cricket dried out at Sharjah. It did host several ACC and ICC tournaments even after 2001 but test nations did not feature much at Sharjah. In 2011 Sharjah went into Guiness World Record Books for hosting the highest number(206) of ODI matches. Sharjah is now one of three stadiums which will host first 20 matches of IPL 2014.
“Our vision is to build a sports city which incorporates not just the ground and stadium but other facilities like training grounds and living facilities etc. in a Public Private Partnership model with the government” explained Poudyal about CG’s plans.”Private sector would have only limited role and resources in such investments which ideally need to be planned by the government. We will wait for government to invite us to discuss various options.” he elaborated.
The idea of making Nepal a Cricketing Hub like Sharjah is not a new one. Zee Televisions gave that a shot building Tribhuwan University Cricket Ground and organizing “Tempo Cup” with famed names like Kapil Dev and Danny Morrison in 1999. But this is the first time a company from Nepal has shown a similar interest.
“We are the eldest corporate associate of Cricket in Nepal. With Cricket doing so well recently and government not building infrastructures with the urgency that it should, we felt that CG could lend a helping hand to the government and CAN to build the infrastructures necessary for cricket’s growth. And a stadium is a basic necessity.” explained Paudyal when inquired about CG’s motivation on investing on Cricket Stadium.
CG was the first corporate to partner with Cricket Association Nepal. CG(Wai Wai) sponsors both male and female U-19 Cricket team of Nepal and have been CAN’s sponsors for male and female U-19 National tournaments. It also sponsored the first U-16 Inter-school girls national tournament held this year at Pokhara. CG has been a major supporter of Nepal Cricket for nearly a decade now.
Government, CAN and even players sometimes have been inviting the private sector time and again to invest in Cricket. It will be interesting to see how CAN and government now react when a private company and that too the wealthiest among all in Nepal is ready to put in substantial amount of money for Cricket’s growth.