Nepali Times Asian Paints
Our boys



When Nepal's U-21 Cricket team sets off for the South Asian Games next week, we can be sure that our boys will be in good hands. Since veteran Sri Lankan batsman Roy Dias became coach in 2001, Nepal's age-group cricket teams have won nearly every tournament they have competed in.

Roy Dias played for the Sri Lankan national team from 1973-1987, and was the first Sri Lankan batsmen to score 1000 runs in test matches. He was also on the first Sri Lankan squad to qualify for the Cricket World Cup in 1979, and would go on to coach the national team during the 1999 World Cup. Since he came on board as national coach, Nepal's age-group teams have won several ACC Trophies and the Plate Championship at the 2006 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup, among others.

Dias' unique contribution as coach has been a focus on the basics.

"I want them to have a solid footing in basic techniques. The top world players, like Sachin Tendulkar, all have excellent technique," says Dias.

Cricket enjoys grassroots support that is rare for Nepali sports. The national cricket teams are fairly diverse, with many members coming from Tarai districts. Local enthusiasm for cricket is motivated in part by the success Nepal's neighbours (four of seven countries in South Asia are test-playing nations) and, more recently, our own age-group teams, have had on the cricket pitch.

Nepal cricket also enjoys a fairly robust structure. There are six cricket development regions, many college-level cricket scholarships and the domestic league is reasonably lively.

However, cricket infrastructure is poor. We have few cricket grounds, many of which subsitute mats for actual pitches. Batsmen who practice on these grounds are usually unprepared for the slower pace of bowling on real pitches. Binay Pandey, president of the Cricket Association of Nepal, says this goes a long way in explaining some of the difficulties the national team has had in batting.

Part of the reason for Nepal's poor cricket infrastructure is that it was never colonised. "In India, the British left behind many wealthy cricket clubs that can afford good equipment," explains Pandey.

This is partly why, despite the impressive feats of our age-group squads, the national men's side continues to struggle, ranked 21 out of 94 non-test playing nations. Cricket pundits, however, are quick to add that the men's side plays against much tougher opponents, since other countries allow expatriates into the national team.

So, what chance does Nepal's U-21 team stand at SAG, where it is in the same preliminary group as cricket-powerhouses India and Pakistan? Dias is optimistic.

"If we play in a relaxed manner and remember the basics, we can cause an upset," says Dias.

1. Ram
"Part of the reason for Nepal's poor cricket infrastructure is that it was never colonised. "In India, the British left behind many wealthy cricket clubs that can afford good equipment," explains Pandey." we are poor in cricket due to bad infrastructure, that's correct. But it's not because we were not colonized. It totally depends on us. If people cannot maintain it, wealthy cricket clubs also go bankrupted within a week. Better not to dream about colonization by countries like England for better cricket.

2. Omraj
The amount of resources spent and emphasis given for cricket in Nepal shows total lack of imagination on the part of sporting authorities in Nepal. In fact it's almost farcical. Cricket is an expensive and resource hungry sports and is hardly suited to Nepal (and other south Asian countries). The dismal performance of India and Pakistan in Olympics clearly shows that they need to give more attention other less expensive and more inclusive sports like football, volleyball, table tennis, and above all in athletics. Nepal among all other countries can least afford this much attention to cricket. Had similar efforts put into to football, quite a few of Nepalese player would have been playing in at least minor European leagues and bringing in some money. This is just opposite to the cricket where vast amount of money is spend on small number of cricketers who have not future prospects of playing in the elite level.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)