13-19 March 2015 #749

Nepali cricket crosses boundaries

Playing in the World Cricket League Championship will give the Nepali Cricket team much needed international exposure
Tufan Neupane

At the ICC World Cricket League Division Two tournament in January in Namibia, the Nepali Cricket team failed to reach the finals despite putting on a good performance. This dashed our hopes of playing with the big boys.

Nepal came fourth in the league, but had we been one of the top two, Nepal would have qualified for Division One Cricket and got a chance to play at the World Cricket League Championship.

But there is still hope. After the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to allow Afghanistan and Ireland, the two top teams from Division One, to directly qualify for the World Cup Qualifier 2018 in Bangladesh, Nepal and Kenya have been asked to take their slots at the World Cricket League Championship which starts in mid-2015.

This will be a two-year tournament in which eight teams including Division One teams Hong Kong, Papua Guinea, Scotland, UAE, Namibia, Netherlands and Division Two teams Kenya and Nepal will compete for the title. The League will be played in a ‘home and away’ format.

Former assistant coach of the Nepal national team, Jagat Tamata says participation at the Championship will provide Nepali cricketers much needed international exposure. He told us: “To be able to play with great teams for two years is an incredible opportunity.”

If Nepal is able to place itself in the top six at the League, it will be selected to play at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier to be held in Bangladesh in 2018, where two teams will qualify for the World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.

This might seem like a distant dream, but Tamata says the focus shouldn’t be so much on the outcome. “Win or lose, the team will benefit from this championship.”

Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) is now preparing to send the team to Sri Lanka for training and has started work to upgrade the stadiums at Kirtipur and Pulchok where seven of the League’s matches will be played. Work has also begun at the Pokhara stadium.

CAN’s CEO Bhawana Ghimire says the cricketing body is also preparing to host several domestic one-day and T-20 competitions ahead of the League Championship.

The current team is playing well, but Tamata says it's time to concentrate on the future. “We should try to develop our domestic cricket so we can produce quality players to play for the national team.”

Former captain and assistant coach Binod Das agrees. “The Nepali Cricket will only improve if we start thinking about our future now,” he says.

The focus he says should be on increasing number of players, ensuring six months of play, conducting league tournaments, and building stadiums in all five regions.

Tamata suggests retaining players who have played with U-19 team but failed to make the cut for the national team. He says: “These young players don’t lack in talent. They need encouragement and experience.”

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