Kathmandu- Nepal arguably faced their most humiliating defeat in the ICC T20 WCQ in Ireland and Scotland this month much because of the upsetting batting failure. Many questions were raised regarding Nepal’s performance. This performance came as surprise to all at a time when Nepal were raising the ladder of world cricket with outstanding results in the past 2-3 years. Not long ago, in 2013 Nepal qualified for T20 word cup 2014 finishing 3rd in the qualifiers, and then in Bangladesh in 2014, they played their best cricket nearly qualifying for the next round, drawing attention, and much praise from cricketing world.
Apart from couple of changes in the squad, this was the same team that beat the likes of PNG, Hong Kong in the qualifiers, and Afghanistan, whom they had never defeated before, in the world cup. Skipper Paras Khadka had led the team from the front then, Subash Khakurel, Gyanendra Malla, and Sharad Veswakar had also shone with the bat. Shakti Gauchan, Basant Regmi, Jitendra Mukhiya, and Sompal Kami all had impressed with the ball. But those days of glory for Nepal had ended years back.
Following the 2014 World T20 team Nepal returned home to administrative chaos from players strike to CAN officials getting dragged by CIAA for embezzlement worth millions. Nepal never recovered after that, serving one disappointing show after another. ACC Premier League, Division 3, Division 2 – nothing went as planned for Nepal.
The story in Ireland was same sorry tale for team Nepal. Nepal faced humiliating defeats finishing in the last in its group. In fact, Nepal was the first team to get knocked out from its group. And questions started pouring in from all over. What went wrong for Nepal? What happened to the batting? Why isn’t Paras leading from the front? What happened to Binod Bhandari, Subash Khakurel, Pradeep Airee, and other batsmen? What happened to Coach Pubudu Dassanayeke’s tactic?
If you people ask me these question, I would say the new-seaming conditions of Ireland, and Scotland didn’t assist Nepal’s cricket team- because Nepal never prevailed in seaming condition.
Remember, Nepal in ICC Word Cup Qualifiers 2014 in New Zealand. Nepal finished ninth, only ahead of Uganda, and hence missing out on World Cup 2015. Nepal managed only two wins with most of the batmen including Paras, Subash, Gyanendra, Binod, Sharad failing to score runs. Why did Nepal fail then? It was because the conditions were new to them, because the pitches are built for fast bowlers there.
Few months later in Namibia, in ICC World Cricket League Division 2, Nepal failed again. Despite Nepal bowers giving exceptional performance with the bowl, Nepal failed to finish on top two, eventually finishing fourth. Why did Nepal fail then? Because the batsmen didn’t score enough runs, because the new-seaming conditions of Namibia didn’t favor them.
Subash played only one match and scored 2 runs. He had averaged 10.5 in Namibia with the bat while he didn’t play a single match in New Zealand due to sickness. Skipper Paras averaged 12 in this tournament while he had averaged 23.4 in New Zealand, and 30.8 in Namibia. Gyanendra, meanwhile has slight good record averaging 16 in this tournament, 22 and 59 respectively in New Zealand, and Namibia. Sharad, and Binod averaged 15.5, and 3.5 in Ireland while 31.33, 19.5, and 20.5, 28.8 respectively in New Zealand, and Namibia. All these stats shows that Nepal batsmen, not a single one, has scored runs in seaming conditions. That exactly happened this time too as Nepal had never prevailed in new-seaming conditions.
If this tournament had taken place in UAE or Malaysia, or any other sub-continent, I can bet you, Nepal would have qualified. If not qualified, they would have got better results. Every sub-continent country suffers the same, when they play in seaming condition of Europe or Australia or New Zealand. Indian squad comprising of legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and VVS Laxman faced 4-0 whitewash at the hands of England in a test series in 2012 in England, and another 4-0 whitewash against Australia the same year. Similar happened to India again in 2015 when Australia defeated them 2-0 in a four test match series.
Nepal’s team is just trying to make a mark in international cricket. It has only been two or three years that they have been playing good cricket. They play most of their cricket in spinning pitches in Asia, and when they travel outside Asia, they find it difficult to adjust. Not a single player from this squad plays club cricket outside Asia or even in India or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. Neither, they get to play full season of domestic cricket in Nepal. How can they improve?
Sometimes team needs luck to propel in a tournament. Perhaps, luck didn’t favor Nepal this time. Maybe, the great quake that shook the country in April 25 had a troll on team Nepal’s mentality. Or maybe tight schedule of practice matches, and international series against Netherlands at the edge of tournament fatigued the players.
When things starts getting bad, it gets even worse. I suppose, Nepal’s 3-1 loss against Netherlands, and a couple of defeats in practice matches hampered team’s winning mentality.
What next then?
Every ending is a new beginning. What happened, just happened. Rather than blaming players for the defeat, we need to think about the things that can be done. We all know through what sort of preparation Nepal goes into a tournament. One month camp, and couple of practice matches ahead of a competition doesn’t help a team to win the competition.
We need a complete domestic setup so there be exchange of players, so that we can bring fresh squad into the team. We need our payers to play outside Nepal in bigger stage like county cricket or the Ranji Trophy. Our team needs to travel all over world to play against quality opposition.
I have always adored Nepal’s cricket team. I have always applauded them for what they achieved playing under limited facilities. Sooner or later this was to happen as they can’t always perform without bigger exposure, and trainings. And again, if you ask me this question: Why didn’t Nepal performed well in the ICC T20 WCQ 2015? I would say the new-seaming conditions of Ireland, and Scotland didn’t assist Nepal’s cricket team- because Nepal have never prevailed in seaming condition.