Most of the few hundred cricket fans that came in to rejoice Team Nepal‘s homecoming at the Tribhuvan International airport – after World Cricket League Division 3 title – would remember the Cup brought in by Nepal skipper Paras Khadka for their life.
For, that is the best silverware Nepal has ever seen. For, that title is the reason Nepal is closer to the World Cup than it has ever been, in its history. For, that title gave Nepal some excitement during the time of political turmoil and utter depression.
So it was natural for the cricket enthusiasts to feel excited. In their excitement, they chanted slogans, which ranged from demanding citizenship certificate for Sharad Vesawkar to Nepal becoming the world champions in cricket. And that, for this scribe, is a major worry.
As we exult in the euphoria of Nepal’s achievement, it is inevitable that we start expecting – even to the extent of demanding – from the players. For, we have seen precious little in terms of achievement at international level in other sectors, and raise in expectations is natural. Yet, we need to be careful and there are a few things that should not be forgotten while we delight ourselves in the feat.
While we celebrate the win, and our progress to the World Cup Qualifiers, we should also remember that the road ahead is arduous. While we dream, we should also know that we would be facing much tougher teams than we’ve faced so far. While we demand players to perform, we should also know what they are getting and how they’re being prepared for the future tournaments.
Paras Khadka put it very smartly when he said in one of the several ‘felicitations’ that have been held in the capital to ‘honor’ the cricketers for their accomplishment. He said, it was ‘high time’ there was investment in cricket. He said, “We are playing both the World T20 Qualifiers and the World Cup Qualifiers in the next eight months. We should start preparations immediately.”
It would be difficult to say no to that statement. Rather, yours truly would say that it’s getting late to invest. And not all investment has to be monetary.
I would have expected Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) to sit for a meeting, the day after Nepal won the championship. For the championship title meant, we’ve moved a step ahead from where we have been. That also means that the organizational behavior or the way it functions has to be stepped up too. We’ve often said that CAN is not in sync with the present times. It needed to start discussing about what next, or roadmap till Nepal plays the qualifiers.
It is not known, if such a meeting was held. Even if it was held, one thing is clear that planning was not an agenda. If at all there was a discussion among CAN officials – probably over phone or something – it appears they just discussed on how to take the team around in a victory rally around the dusty capital, in an open truck – all when the players were trying to fight jet lag, coming from halfway across the globe.
Big shots, right from Chairman of the Ministerial Council to Chairman of UCPN (Maoist) hailed the cricketers for their achievement and pledged for support in its activities. Now, depending on whether you trust politicians or not, you can reject the pledge or feel that it is an opportunity for CAN. It is up to the association to remind them of their pledge and make them materialize.
It has to be realized that World Cup Qualifiers, to be played in New Zealand in early 2014, is not going to be an easy one. For once, we will be playing in a tournament where every other team – with the exception of Uganda – is ranked higher than us. And to qualify for the World Cup 2015, Nepal has to finish in top two, or top four – if it aims for an ODI status. That is possible, yet a difficult task. And a couple of tours where Nepal’s national team plays with some minor clubs from Indian cities, is not going to help prepare for a tournament of this stature.
Now is the time, when association needs to takes steps. The road ahead is not an easy one. As we speak of it, it is getting late to act.
PS: This write-up appeared in yours truly’s weekly column in The Kathmandu Post – OFFSIDE – on 11th May, 2013