A cricketer, who plays at the national level, bumped into a few sports journalists at a café. Incidentally, I happened to witness the conversation.
He asked, “When are the national championships happening?” He was promptly replied, “It’s not likely to happen this year.”
While it may sound as a normal conversation, it is definitely not normal. It goes on to show, at a deeper level, the problems our cricket faces. A cricketer has to ask a journalist about when a tournament that he is supposed to play in takes place.
The incident shows that the governing body of cricket in the country, Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), has not communicated with its players, whether the national championship is going to take place. It is writing on the wall that the chances of national championship this year is next to impossible (with slim chance being in December). Yet the governing body chooses not to see it, and not act accordingly, at least as far as communicating it is concerned. With the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 slated in September and ACC Trophy Elite Cup slated in October, followed by festive season that lasts till the end of November, where is the time for nationals?
This means, for the first time since 1996, Nepali national side would be selected without their performance being judged at the nationals. National championship is not just another tournament. It is the glue of Nepali cricket, since it keeps cricketers attracted to cricket. It cannot be forgotten that most cricketers here do not play cricket round the year. For many, nationals are the only opportunity to play cricket. One opportunity for which they get fit, talk about cricket and dream of getting into the national side.
Knowing all this, it is a huge disappointment that the cricketers have not been made aware about the dates – if there is any – for the championship. Even in the past, barring a few occasions – when it was released to the media – cricket calendars have been the property of the President and few others. Not even executive members were aware of it.
While CAN is at fault (and we’ve talked about its attitude umpteen times already), there is another question that the anecdote – mentioned above – brings to mind. About the attitude of the cricketers in general…
Is it fair that a cricketer who dreams of playing for the country depends on a journalist to know about the dates of national championship? Is this the level of dedication our cricketers have for cricket? A cricketer who roams about in Kathmandu’s elite café is expected to be smart enough to know that the information of championship should be at the CAN office. An average Nepali knows that there is no chance of cricket during monsoon.
This shows that even national level cricketers have callous attitude towards cricket. And the person mentioned here – intentionally not named, to protect his privacy and to highlight the fact that he represents most cricketers here – could be questioned about his dreams of making it to national team. We often talk about the facilities that cricketers get in Test-playing countries or even the countries with ODI status. But what we do not mention is the amount of struggle that the cricketers go through there, before breaking it to the top. How difficult it is for them to give up everything and focus on cricket. Even a regular club cricketer in India will tell you, if asked, how he has lost count of the number of parties he has missed, just for the sake of cricket.
It is not just about what you get after you get to the top. It is also a question of how much a person is ready to sacrifice to get there. It is about how intense your love affair with cricket is. It is about what you prioritize. A cricketer aspiring to make it to the national team should know every cricket activity that goes around him.
It’s not only talent that takes you to the top. It’s about how you handle that talent. It’s about that word called ‘attitude’.
(PS: This write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly column in The Kathmandu Post – OFFSIDE – on 21 July, 2012)