These are difficult times to be a cricketer here. Mind you, under normal circumstances it would be busy times with a major championship not too far away (ACC T20 Cup gets underway in a fortnight).
Cricketers in Nepal have always considered themselves unlucky. In the beginning days of cricket here, most could not play, given it was only within a reach of richer few. Hence most were unlucky. Till late 90s, Nepal had no participation at international level, so the players were said to be unlucky. When the cricket administration prospered and coffers did not show zero balance, the cricketers said they were unlucky as they did not receive anything out of it.
Circa 2001, yours truly once met a national level cricketer who said he was unlucky not to be in the national team, forgetting a small matter of letting nearly 50 wide balls, in a small matter of 4-5 matches.
But the cricketers, for now, really have a difficult time. For, they’re caught in transition. As if transition from long standing coach was not difficult in itself, they have an unenviable task of going through the restructuring – or should one say, reconfiguration – of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN). It should be noted here that the past coach, Roy Dias, coached Nepali team since beginning of this century, and had played majority of his cricket in the 80s. Meanwhile, the new coach, Pubudu Dassanayake, played his cricket in modern era and coached a team to the World Cup. He is used to more modern ways and equipments of coaching and is trying to use it with the boys here. The national team players, though young, will take some time to adapt to that mechanism.
And, during the same time, they have to deal with the new administration of CAN, led by a Central Committee Member of a political party. Imagine the confusion, when the coach hardly knows the abilities of the players and the whole cricket administration is into the hands of someone totally alien to cricket. If we add to that the Nepali organizational culture of never keeping institutional knowledge or memory, you know what could go wrong. For players, it’s like starting afresh, akin to doing an entry level job in a fast food joint, after managing it for five years.
If you were a player, it could be difficult not to be scared. The new CAN, the ad-hoc body supposed to hold election for an executive body, has announced that its new statute will not be in compliance with the ICC provisions. The person responsible for recommending the statute says, he was not aware of ICC provisions. That coming from a former cricketer and administrator sounds like a blatant excuse. World governing body of almost every sport has some provisions for the national bodies, especially on governance. If you are not aware of that, and are still preparing something as important as statute, you have disqualified yourself.
ICC is very clear on stopping political or government interference in national cricket boards. That would also include National Sports Council (NSC), known for dissolving the national sporting bodies, upon the whim of its chief. Continuing the tradition, Member Secretary of NSC, Yubraj Lama, appointed Tanka Angbuhang – Maoist Central Committee Member – as President of CAN. Perhaps to return the favor to the party that got him the most powerful position in Nepali sport. He was a sportsman once, but what he is practicing right now is definitely not cricket. Special mention should be given NSC appointing past president Binay Raj Pandey as Patron of CAN, without even notifying him.
With all of it going on in the background, one would be surprised if the players can still focus on learning newer techniques in cricket. And cricket fans would just hope that in this insane environment, at least the players would keep their sanity.
(PS: The write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly sports column – OFFSIDE – in The Kathmandu Post, on 19th November, 2011)