Recently, former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh was presented with Team Nepal Jersey, in London. Apparently, Waugh was pleased to receive the jersey and keen to learn about cricket development in Nepal.
The team Nepal jersey was presented by a group of Nepalis, including Gagan Thapa. Yes, you guessed it right: Gagan Thapa, the politician. While those who have been following cricket need no introduction for Steve Waugh, many would not know the interest Gagan Thapa has in cricket. Steve Waugh has been known for his fighting style of cricket and a ruthlessly efficient captain of Cricket Australia. He has been one of known names lobbying for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics.
At the same time we do not know much about Gagan Thapa’s interest in cricket. Yes, yours truly has seen him on the cricket ground in recent past, when Nepal was playing. It would be difficult to say whether he is a genuine cricket enthusiast or a recent fan, lured in by recent success of the team. However, while in London, Gagan Thapa also met Derek Brewer, Chief Executive & Secretary of MCC, at the Mecca of Cricket, Lords.
Following the meet, Thapa had written in microblogging site, Twitter, “Requested to send their team to Nepal in my meeting with Derek Brewer, CEO of Marylebone Cricket Club in London. He took it positively.”
One can understand that interest in cricket has been growing, in all sectors. And not all of them are bad, if they serve cricket. And mind you, Thapa is not a part of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), or holds any post in the government. He was in London on a personal trip and found time to lobby for Nepali cricket. But the point here is not to praise a politician with interest in the game.
The point here is that the President and General Secretary of CAN were in London too, towards the end of June, to attend a meeting of ICC. President Tanka Angbuhang returned to the country since, and General Secretary Ashok Nath Pyakurel’s continued his London trip for longer. The point here is there was no official update from them on what happened at the ICC meeting. The point here is that no communication from the cricket authority shows carelessness on the part of cricket administrators. At the same time, somebody without a portfolio in the game has been trying to do his bit – even if it were symbolic – for the game.
At the same time, National Sports Council – in the wake of budget announcement – allocated 4 million rupees for Nepali team’s World Cup 2015 preparation. If you look at the broader picture, 4 million may not be enough for such an ambitious preparation. One trip to India for practice matches consumes close to a million rupees. Of course more money might be needed for such a project, if we genuinely want to qualify for the World Cup. But you also have to think, this is perhaps the first time government’s budget has come to CAN, for team preparation.
Member Secretary of NSC, Yubaraj Lama was quoted in media saying he will make sure there is no scarcity of money for cricket’s preparation. And he has also raised a question saying CAN cannot just ask for funds, without properly utilizing the money that comes from ACC and ICC (17.5 million rupees). And if you were to believe him, CAN is yet to present a plan for the preparation. He said, “State will not shy away from monetary support to cricket. But, CAN has to bring in plans.”
Scary thought, if you keep in mind Nepal has to play two World Cup qualifiers. The first of them, for World T20, begins in mid-November, and Nepal has been pitted against Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Scotland, Kenya, Bermuda, Papua New Guinea and Denmark. None of the teams are pushovers. In fact, Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Scotland and Kenya are World Cricket League Division 1 teams, ranked higher than us. And CAN doesn’t have a plan as yet? Beats me…
Despite good faith in Nepali team’s talent and hope of improved show, yours truly feels, we cannot put up a good show, unless CAN pulls up its socks. I would fear, and you can join me in that, if time isn’t running out already.
PS: This write-up appeared in yours truly’s weekly column in The Kathmandu Post – OFFSIDE – on 27th July, 2013.