The National One Day cricket championship ends just as the New Year begins. For all the criticism Cricket Association of Nepal has faced for not organizing the nationals during the customary season of summer, the timing of the nationals has been perfect this time around.
There is something about winter and cricket that makes sense. The sun shining on the pitch, after moist and dewy mornings, just as the players warm up and spectators enjoy sunbathing along with contest between bat and ball makes it a delightful sight that perhaps no other sport offers. Add to that women’s team practicing under the watchful eyes of Pubudu Dassanayake – just as the men fight it out for the national title – it seems as if everything were perfect with Nepali cricket.
Alas, not everything is. This time around, most people who came to cricket grounds to watch cricket in the capital had one question in mind: Where is Binod Das?
Das was absent from Birgunj (Region no. 2) team. Just as his absence was conspicuous, the omission was mysterious, if some sources are to be believed. It is no mystery that Nepal’s premier medium pacer (as far as records show) is injured. The bone bruise – that Binod is suffering from – is often a result of compressive forces incurred during an injury, generally caused by falls and is a common sports injury.
Ask Binod about his omission from his home team and he has a wry smile. “I informed the administrators about my injury and inability to bowl,” he says. Talk to people close to him and you’d learn that the man has not been managed well. Apparently, he wanted to play as a batsman but was discouraged from doing so. There could be some logic in Binod playing as a batsman in the nationals. Prior to this edition of nationals, only three centuries have been made in the championship. One of them belong to Binod, others being Raju Khadka and Mehboob Alam. You might be reminded of Rameez Raja, former Pakistan international expressing his awe, watching Binod bat at number 10, against Hong Kong in ACC Trophy in 2000. “If a number 10 bats with a straight bat like this, I wonder what kind of batting talent Nepal has,” Raja had said. That was Binod’s debut tournament.
Whether Binod deserved to be in the team based on his merit as a batsman can be debated openly. But the manner in which he was discouraged is a concern and such modus operandi cannot be encouraged.
Binod Das, for all his contributions to Nepal cricket, is a player who is not getting any younger. Age is definitely not on his side, as his injury has the potential to be career threatening, if not managed in time. Such injury has a potential to keep him out of cricket for as long as nine months, even if he opts for surgery (so far he’s been suggested only rest).
“I’m planning to take second opinion and try to get fit quickly. I want to play for Nepal in ICC World Cricket League Division 3 matches,” Binod tells you. At present, his best friends are the injury management techniques he has learnt during coaching courses.
If you talk to Nepali cricket’s insiders, you’d learn that the former Nepal captain was made to run pillar to post, just to get an approval for MRI scan. And now, there’s hardly any support when he needs medical assistance, which hardly exists in Nepal.
Last time yours truly talked to Nepal coach Pubudu Dassanayake about Binod Das, he had said, “Binod is a good role model for young cricketers. Younger players can learn and look up to him, as he also helps them.”
It was Dassanayake who kept Binod in the playing XI, after learning of his injury before ICC WCL Division 4 matches. And by no means Pububu Dassanayake has lesser brains than those who picked Birgunj team. Rather, he’s one of the smartest cricketing brains that have come in contact of Nepali cricket.
As Binod was left out, Birgunj was captained by Hasim Ansari, an U-19 player for Nepal. Would Binod’s experience have helped the team? At least, Birgunj administrators don’t seem to think so.
PS: This write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly column in The Kathmandu Post – OFFSIDE – on 22nd December, 2012