The Worry Called Cricket

If you were tovisit Tribhuvan University Grounds these days, you could see Nepali cricketers,led by captain Paras Khadka, in practice drills. They are busy in preparationfor the SAARC Under-25 Twenty20 Cricket, which Maldives will host.
As the boys looksprightly during the net sessions, a rumor that yours truly heard this weekcomes as a flash. The story is: Recently, President of Cricket Association ofNepal, Binay Raj Pandey called Paras Khadka for a meeting. Paras sent a messagesaying he would meet the new President of CAN, as the change of guards islikely.
The truth in thestory cannot be verified and hence should be called a rumor. But the anecdotalreference gives you a rough sketch of behind the scenes in Nepali cricket.We’ve heard of Nepal cricket skipper’s dissatisfaction over CAN’s handling ofcricketers, and sometimes they’ve been justified too.
Even if the storymentioned above is rejected completely, what cannot be undermined is that CANhas not been able to hold elections for a new executive committee. Pandeyascended to the throne five years ago, and has been time and again been told tohold elections, especially after Yubraj Lama became Member Secretary of theNational Sports Council.
The scene is fastheating, as Pandey tries to take stock of what his team has done during theirtenure. And we cannot forget the division within the executive committee due topolitical appointment of some members.
Rumor mill alsohas it – mentioned to this scribe on the condition of keeping it off-the-record– that a certain section of present CAN executive committee members lobbied fora politically affiliated head of the cricket body. Their logic was that theyalready have a team, and the team can handle cricket even if the chief is apolitician. Logic seems right. One person cannot just do everything. He needs ateam to accomplish things. A good team, to be precise…
The worry is notthe logic, but the division within the so called ‘guardians’ of cricket. Theworry is, their lobby is getting stronger. The worry is, there are somepoliticos from the ruling party who are providing these lobbyists with fodder,and incentive.
In a recentmeeting, Rumesh Ratnayake, Development Officer of ACC, told the writer of thesecolumns, “The pace of growth of cricket in Nepal in last decade hasn’t beenwhat we expected. We thought it would go at 70 miles per hour but it was at20.”
Now Rumesh was afast bowler as a cricketer and his love with speed can be understood. But thegap in expectation and results has been worrisome. Ratnayake said, “At a pointwe thought Nepal could achieve Test status, not only ODI.”
Somehow, thecustodians for past half a decade have to realize they’ve fallen short onpromises. Half a decade ago, Pandey was labeled a savior for Nepali cricket.Now, he looks a sorry figure, with his comrades fast disappearing.
But what shouldalso be remembered is that present team inherited virtually empty coffers whenthey took over and now CAN balance could read anywhere between 70-90 millionrupees. While the failings are listed, the achievements also have to beaccounted.

Onecannot deny the change needed to modernize Nepali cricket. But the changecannot be whimsical, which is what may happen, given the stance taken by variousplayers in sports right now. Too much of political interest is not likely tohelp the sector. We’ve already seen that with the executive committee headed byPandey, which was for most of its tenure, split into half.


(PS: The write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly sports column – OFFSIDE – in The Kathmandu Post, on 22nd October, 2011)

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