By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA:
The New Year countdown has begun and it is the right time to look back at what happened in the world of Nepali cricket in 2012.
Our cricketers have had a busy year competing in various domestic and international competitions. Over all, I would say it was a mixed bag strictly in terms of performance and outcome, especially in international tournaments.
There were setbacks and successes aplenty and missed opportunities, as well. Surely, we can do much better than this. The players played their hearts out, undoubtedly, but there are various facets of the game where improvement is desperately needed.
We always tend to highlight the talent and potential of our players. It is a proven fact that raw talent alone is not enough to garner success.
Without an iota of doubt, our cricketers are hard working, fiercely enthusiastic and passionate. That being said, success, however, continues to elude them in a significant way.
The pathetic state of domestic cricket, coupled with poor infrastructure and politicizing of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) is the main impediment.
CAN manned by political appointees, not real professionals has guided cricket to nowhere. This is a classic case of the administration being all talk but no action.
Despite increased growth and popularity of cricket in the country, CAN have not been able to make any significant headway in terms of sustainable development, owing to their non-committal attitude.
In addition domestic cricket has suffered and suffers badly, due to the absence of adequate playing facilities, along with lack of proper pitches, coaching programmes and quality tournaments.
In spite of everything, there are no stopping cricketers. They continue to play for the love of the game and to bring glory and honor to the country.
I commend them for their sacrifice, spirit and outstanding efforts. It is admirable what they have achieved under these challenging and difficult circumstances.
Sri Lankan Pubudu Dassanayake and his coaching staff have exercised their responsibilities with competence and diligence. They deserve praise for their wholehearted efforts.
Success of the National Team
The biggest cricket success story of 2012 was the national team. The long wait for success was finally over. After having come so close on numerous occasions in the past, they capped off a successful year with two very important tournament wins.
The team put in a flawless performance to win the ICC World League Division Four tournament in Malaysia. They played compelling cricket and remained unbeaten. But more importantly, the win earned Nepal promotion to Division three.
Left arm spinner Basanta Regmi was at his very best. He walked away with “Player of the Tournament “ for his 21 wicket haul. The batting honor was shared by the trio of Subash Khakurel, Gyanendra Malla and Paras Khadkha.
The national team made it two in a row, following their ACC Trophy Elite20 triumph in the UAE. They shared the trophy with the UAE in a thriller.
Skipper Paras Khadka was the highest run getter for Nepal ,and Sharad Vesawkar was the other outstanding batter.
Earlier in the year, despite a promising start Nepal stumbled to finish 7th in the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers held in the UAE. They finished the tournament with five wins and four defeats.
Nepal U-19 disappoint
The year did not go down well for the talented Nepal U-19. A lot was expected from the young squad. They competed in two high profile tournaments, and the young Turks had the chance to show off their talent against the best in the world.
However , they failed to make the desired impact. Nepal went down rather meekly to India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup held in Malaysia. Their only consolation win came against Malaysia.
After much anticipation, the ICC World Cup championship in Australia was quite a disappointment for Nepal. By and large, they were bogged down in mediocrity. They were unable to match or surpass their past performances.
I would say, though, I am confident and convinced they will bounce back. It is only a matter of time
Nepal U-16 denied Elite Cup
Nepal’s hope of winning the maiden U-16 Elite Cup in Malaysia was thwarted by Malaysia in a gripping final. Nonetheless, the youngsters are full of promise, and they need to build on their promise in the days to come
Poor show by Nepal in ACC Women’s T20
Our women cricketers have shown remarkable progress, in recent years. The ACC Women’s T20 held in China, however, was a letdown for Nepal result wise. They were expected to do well but concluded the competition winless.
It is not the end of the world, the team should learn from their mistakes and have to come back strong. Without a doubt, our cricketers are capable of delivering much more for the team.
Nepal U-19 Women dominate
The U-19 Women outfit asserted their domination by winning the ACC U-19 Women’s Championship for a record three consecutive times in Kuwait.
Skipper Rubina Chhetri was adjudged player of the tournament, and Mamata Chaudhary was another player to have impressed.
The team is loaded with talent, and given the right guidance, training, facilities and opportunities, they can certainly soar to new heights.
APF on top
Armed Police Force studded with international players emerged victorious against Bhairahawa to win the National Twenty20 cricket tournament. Eight teams were in the fray, and defending champion Nepal Police Club did not compete.
Paras and Shakti under spotlight
Skipper of the national team Paras Khadka and Shakti Gauchan were the most talked about in Nepali cricket. The right- handed batsman Khadka made news after he signed to play for the Canadian side Ontario Cricket Club, and he became the first Nepali cricketer to play overseas.
Leg spinner Shakti Gauchan hogged the headlines, following his trial with Rajasthan Royals. Although he was not picked for the team, he earned high marks for his potential from the IPL franchise.
Also the two were the only Nepali cricketers picked by ESPNStar for the Best XI of the ICC World Qualifier 2012 in the UAE.
What to expect in 2013?
Apparently, CAN holds key to Nepali cricket future. In my opinion there will likely not be much change. I hope I am wrong. I wish our cricketers all the best and future success. Keep up the good work regardless of the situation.
Thapa is a keen follower of Nepali Sports and writes from USA.