Many cricket fans, those who favour game’s global expansion, would be delighted to see Zimbabwe’s re-entry into the Test arena after almost half a decade. The cricket world, especially the non-Test playing countries, must be looking at it with the same interest as they did 19 years ago, when Dave Houghton’s amateurs took to the field against India.
This is exactly the moment when Zimbabwe batsman, Tatenda Taibu – who had been in self imposed exile after controversially resigning from the captaincy in 2005 – took the opportunity to tell the world that all is still not well with Zimbabwe Cricket. He said, he spoke out ‘as a senior member in the side’.
Tatenda Taibu is one name Nepali cricketers and fans alike, would never forget. He was the one who had stopped our boys’ dream run at U-19 Cricket World Cup in 2002, beating Nepal in the final of Plate Championship.
As Nepal U-19 team, led by Prithu Baskota, plays the U-19 World Cup 2012 qualifiers, the memories of Taibu’s conquest over our team and our boys’ performance in 2002 in New Zealand comes back flashing.
It’s because that tournament was a special one for Nepali cricketers and fans. A little less than a decade ago, in that tournament, Nepali Colts, led by Binod Das, announced themselves to the world – as former Sri Lankan Test batsman Roy Dias took the team to New Zealand. Nepali boys had a close loss against English boys then, and were able to beat Pakistan, ranked better than Nepal on any day. This had made Nepali boys a rage in New Zealand, who only knew this country because their favorite son Edmund Hillary was one of the firsts to have climbed Mt Everest.
“How do you play in the mountains,” they would ask. “What are you doing in Nepal,” then Coach Roy Dias used to be ask.
The questions had helped Nepal being recognized as a cricket country. Perhaps no other non-British colony showed as much promise in cricket. Beating a Test country like Pakistan cannot be a fluke.
Taibu was player of the tournament then, as current Australia batsman Cameron White was the leading runscorer.
Fast forward a decade later, Taibu is a ‘senior’ batsman for Zimbabwe, and Cameron White is an essential in Australian limited over plans. And our boys, who played alongside them are waiting, for yet another opportunity. 9 years ago, nobody was questioning the talent Binod Das & Co. had. They looked destined to rise and shine. But, despite being on the launchpad, we lost the plot. Maybe we took it too easy, we ignored the essentials, we forgot we had a road to take. Somewhere, we needed cricket administration to be ‘smarter’ than they showed.
Similar promise has been shown by the team led by Prithu Baskota in the U-19 World Cup Qualifiers this time. How else do you describe a figure of 10 overs, 6 maidens, 9 runs for two wickets, by Bhuvan Karki, followed by overhauling the target with 30 overs to spare, as our boys beat Kenya. It’s not only the win, but the way team is playing should give us hope. Despite losses – which have been against the team that have better cricket infrastructure – the wins have been emphatic. The fight has been spot on.
But then, we should not sit on the laurels we get while being termed as promising. For every dream that you see, you have to wake up to realize it. Promises would remain only that, if cricket administration does not remain alert. Boys are doing their bit on the field, authority needs to do theirs. Engaging them in cricket round the year would be important.
In 2006, we won the Plate championship at the U-19 World Cup, our best performance in terms of title so far. Then, Ireland was captained by Eoin Morgan and Sri Lanka was led by Angelo Mathews. Now, Morgan is a vital part of English team and Matthews has shown his worth for Sri Lanka. Our captain in that episode was Kanishka Chaugain. He now lives in US…
(PS: The write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly sports column – OFFSIDE – in The Kathmandu Post, on 6th August, 2011)
Disclaimer: The picture shown in the post is courtesy www.ekantipur.com. It was published in the The Kathmandu Post.