Fairfax – Nepali cricket did not turn out to be rosy as anticipated by cricket aficionados across the country in 2015. By and large, it was a year riddled with setbacks, disappointments, frustration, triumph, politics, controversies, infighting and anguish.
National Team’s debacle
The national side in particular was a huge disappointment in terms of performance. They competed in several big time international tournaments only to disappoint.
Contrary to expectations, it was quite a struggle for the senior side. Despite the experience and an abundance of talent, they were bogged down by mediocrity, inconsistency and sloppiness.
They failed to come to terms with the high level of cricket, recapture the mojo and get back to winning ways.
Nepal competed in the World Cup League Division Two held in Namibia, however, failed to make the most out of their opportunities. Although they bounced back after losing the opener but faltered in two of their crucial matches, losing to Kenya on both occasions.
The heartening news was that the International Cricket Council confirmed Nepal and Kenya’s participation in World Cup League Division One. It was a great relief for everyone.
Moving on to the 2015 ICC Twenty/20 Qualifier held in Ireland and Scotland. Nepal had a disastrous outing that we like to forget.
Simply put, the performance was horrendous. They finished at the bottom of Group B, winning just one match. It was a complete batting and fielding failure that took everyone by surprise.
Yes, in the aftermath of the quake, the team participated with a heavy heart, but that’s no excuse for the poor brand of cricket they played. The matter of the fact is that most players were jaded and performed badly.
The build -up to the tournament was reasonable. Though the schedule was hectic, the team played a series of warm-up matches in India, England and the Netherlands.
Evidently the team’s biggest concern was/is the fragile batting that was exposed, time and time again, throughout the competition. In short, it was a woeful batting performance that largely attributed to the team’s debacle.
It is high time now to address our perennial batting failures. Otherwise, we stand little chance of being successful and competitive in the highest level of the game.
Skipper Khadka Vs CAN
The war of words between skipper Paras Khadka and Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) was uncalled for and unwarranted. The wrangle between the two sides took center stage and exposed the cricket body’s bureaucratic high-handedness.
Unhappy about Mr. Khadka’s outspoken nature the cricket body made desperate attempts to strip him of the captaincy. Yet they failed to do so.
Coach Dassanayake lingering contract issue
Likewise, head Coach Pubudu Dassanyake was in the spotlight for a good period of time. The issue revolved around his lingering contract issue.
As always CAN sowed seeds of problem and made themselves a laughing stock. It was obvious that they wanted to get rid of him. The indecisive on what to do about the situation they created on their part made them look terribly incompetent.
The issue was finally resolved after the government decided to extend his contract. The Sri Lankan, however, bid adieu to Nepali cricket, following his outstanding five-year coaching stint with the national side.
Ms. Bhawana Ghimire’s ceremonial post of CEO
Ms. Bhawana Ghimere appointed to the ceremonial post of CEO of CAN created plenty of headlines, as well. Although sidelined by CAN for the most part, she did not back down from her goals to shake up Nepali cricket in turmoil, headed nowhere.
Finally, the National Sports Council (NSC) has given her the responsibility (she wanted) to prove herself. She has been instructed to look after day-to –day activities of CAN until a new body is elected. Time will tell whether she is more than up to the task.
Power Struggle within CAN
The pathetic, shameless power struggle within CAN continues unabated. The formation of a 15-member-ad hoc committee headed by Mr. Ramesh Silwal has added fuel to the fire.
The ad hoc committee formed by NSC challenges the legitimacy of Mr. Chatur Bahadur Chand led committee that was elected last December.
The Chand faction has already filed writ petition at the Supreme Court against the ad hoc committee formed by NSC.
How bad can it get? It gets worse every day. These mindless power brokers are guided by self-interests, greed, and moral corruption at the cost of organizational goals.
That problem has been around for decades. The government has never been serious about resolving problems. The fact of the matter is that no one gives a damn.
Nepali cricket has long suffered from chronic mismanagement, lack of vision and planning, coupled with lack of infrastructure development, transparency, commitment and power grab within CAN.
As things stand now, the situation has deteriorated further, and there is no end in sight to Nepali cricket crisis. The players and fans have been badly let down by the worthless, useless government and CAN.
Despite challenging circumstances, the players have continued to play for the country. They toil hard day in day out and deserve more than just the applause.
Sompal Kami makes history
Youngsters Sompal Kami and Sagar Pun got the important breakthrough to play in Sri Lanka. They were recruited by Kalutara Town Club of Sri Lanka to play in the Emerging Trophy tournament.
Sompal made an outstanding debut for the Sri Lankan club by capturing 37 wickets.
Sompal became Nepal’s first cricketer to play 1st class cricket in a Test-Playing nation. He is playing for Saracens Cricket Club in the Premier Trophy (1st Class cricket).
Skipper Khadka adds another feather
Skipper Paras Khadka added another feather to his illustrious career, following his selection to the Marylebone Cricket Club squad along side stalwarts in the likes of Yuvaraj Singh and Alastair Cook for the Emirates Airline T20 tournament.
Friendlies, tribute and fund raising
Bat for Nepal fund raising match for the quake victims was played between Nepal XI and World XI in Malaysia.
The national team of Nepal played a series of friendly matches against Hong Kong, Pakistan, Oman and Danube Lions in the United Arab Emirates.
In memory of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes a tribute match was played between Team Red and Team Blue in Kathmandu.
Mulpani cricket ground still a dream
CAN’s by far the biggest dream project called Mulpani cricket ground still remains a dream. The stadium remains in many ways unfinished, despite six years of construction and missed deadlines. Will it ever be completed? This is so pathetic.
Under-19 spectacular performance
The Under-19 had a magnificent year- qualifying for the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh and finishing second in the ACC Under-19 league competition.
In the World Cup qualifiers, Nepal played brilliantly to win the final beating Ireland. Even more impressive and remarkable was the team’s overall performance. They won all four matches they played and remained undefeated.
Highly rated Raju Rijal will captain the Under-19 packed full of talent. Nepal is making her seventh World Cup appearance.
Although grouped alongside India, Australia and New Zealand, we can look forward to a strong performance from our youngsters who are full of energy and bubbling with confidence.
2016, let us hope, will be better and productive year for Nepali cricket. That’s all we can hope for. Hopefully, the Under-19 gets off to a great start and end’s the tournament on a high note.