The Rise And Downfall Of The Cricket In Nepal

The sport that is one of the most popular sports in the world after Football is Cricket and England originated sport Cricket is the game that has a humongous fanbase and crazes in Southern Asia, the Australian continent, South Africa, and in the subregion of North America. 

Though the game is now very popular in the world. The craze and popularity of this sport in the countries of Southern Asia like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, etc are much more than the rest in the world. It is because Cricket for people in these countries is not less than religion. People of these countries go crazy when they hear even anything about Cricket. It’s not only about playing Cricket. You will get the same vibe and enthusiasm the same as the players in the audience of this sport. 

Cricket has been massively developing in most of these countries and today these countries are big names in the Cricket World. Cricket without the inclusion of the countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh will not be the same as it is today. In other words, Cricket is almost impossible without these nations. This is the impact of South Asian countries in the world of Cricket. 

But somehow, Nepal hasn’t been able to make such an impact in Cricket yet that can make the name of Nepal like other nations in the Cricket world. So let’s know in detail about the rise and fall of Cricket in Nepal though the history of Cricket in Nepal is quite good.

History Of Cricket In Nepal

It’s 2020 now, So the history of Cricket in Nepal is now 100 years old. Cricket also is known as the Gentlemen’s Game was first introduced in the country in the year 1920 by the then Lt. General Madam Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana who was the youngest son of Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana. Since this game was highly considered as the Gentlemen’s Game across the world, Cricket was also limited to the members of the ruling Rana family only. 

At that time people of Nepal barely know about other things. So Cricket also remained unknown for Nepalese for a long time since it was only limited to the Rana family and the members of some higher elites family of Nepal. 

Though the game was kept within the wall of the members of the Rana family for about 26 years after the introduction of Cricket in Nepal, in the year 1946, the Cricket Association Of Nepal also known as CAN was founded to promote the game among those high-class family that holds the highest social ranks in the country at that time. Keeping the game away from the people even at that time is one of the main reasons for today that Cricket hasn’t fully developed in the country. 

The game began to spread its popularity among the rest of the population of Nepal after the Revolution Of 1951. This was the movement that collapsed and ended the autocratic Rana Regime in the country and established democracy in the country for the first time. After that Cricket completely came out from the control of the Rana family to all the Nepalese. 

In a sense, with the start of a new political era in Nepal, the first big step was also taken for Cricket in Nepal as it was not only limited to the members of the Rana family and elite family. 

The next big step taken in the history of Cricket in Nepal was taken in 1961 A.D. when the Cricket Association Of Nepal (CAN) became the official part of the National Sports Council in order to promote Cricket in the whole country. Even these steps were taken to promote Cricket in the whole of the country, this game was still limited to the Kathmandu valley only. 

Early Rise Of Cricket In Nepal

In a real sense, Cricket really began to spread in the country in the late 1980s. That was the time when there was no more communication and transportations service that could have taken the game outside the Kathmandu valley. With the improvements in the communication and transportation services in the late 1980s, Cricket actually began to expand outside the valley. 

The late 1980s and the early 1990s were the time when the rise of Cricket in Nepal had started. There were several big decisions that were taken during this time to promote the game in the country like never before. In 1988, CAN become the affiliate member of the Internation Cricket Council(ICC) and in 1990, it became the associate member of the Asian Cricket Council(ACC), and the permanent member of ACC in 1994. And after that in the early 1990s, several development programs were conducted with the establishment of districts and regional levels of tournaments and this is also the time when Cricket began to promote in the Schools of the country. 

The early 1990s was really a great time period for Nepali Cricket because the popularity and the interest of people in this game had increased so quickly. Then came the year 1996 when CAN become the associate member of the ICC and it was also the year in which the National Cricket Team of Nepal played for the first time in the ACC Trophy that was held in Kaula Lumpur. Nepal finished the tournament at the 4th position among 6 nations in the first round of the game. 

Since that time, the craze and popularity of Cricket among the Nepalese people have never been decreased, but instead, with time the number of audiences of this game has increased. Cricket becomes more and more popular especially in the Terai region of Nepal due to the high influence of the popularity of Cricket in India. The youths of Terai seem more excited about this game than other parts of the country. This was the first time when Nepali Cricket seemed to be developing. 

The Impact Of Nepal Participating In 2014 ICC T20 World Cup

The Twenty Twenty Cricket World Cup of 2014 that was held in Bangladesh has been registered in the history book of Cricket in Nepal. Its because, even being an associate member of ICC since 1996 and participating in international matches, it was the first time when Nepal had appeared and participated in any ICC global events. This was the tournament that had brought hope and excitement to the Nepal Cricket Team as well as the Nepalese people. It had brought the hope of the dream of Nepal playing the ODI World Cup and the hope that Nepal can play international matches with other big cricketing nations. 

Not only for participating in an ICC global event, but this World Cup will always be remembered by Nepalese because of the performance showed by the team in the tournament though Nepal failed to make their place in the Super 10 Stage of the tournament. Nepal had almost made their place in the Super 10 Stage of the tournament but the net run-rate didn’t give favor to them and Nepal ended up the tournament in the Group stage at 2nd position behind Bangladesh whose Net Run Rate was more than Nepal. In the group stage matches, Nepal played 3 matches and won 2 against Afghanistan and Hong Kong. 

Though Nepal lost to Bangladesh in the group stage match, even Bangladesh and its audiences applaud and praised the effort of Nepal and Nepali players. That world cup really had a huge impact on the cricket lovers in Nepal as all the Nepalese were able to watch their players on the TV playing World Cup. That world also made many youths dream to become a cricketer and play for the country. 

The Downfall Of Cricket In Nepal

Now without saying extra things, I am directly going on the main point. You may wonder after reading this heading. You must be thinking that Really, there is a downfall of Cricket in Nepal. If you are thinking so, it’s obvious because everything related to Nepal cricket seems good and perfect. But the things mustn’t be the same for you if you are among those who really think about the future of Cricket in Nepal. 

I am not even saying that this is an absolute downfall of Cricket in Nepal, but there are some points that will make you think about this topic. 

Have you ever thought Why Nepal hasn’t become a full member of ICC even though Nepal had become its associate member in 1996?

Have you ever thought How a country like Afghanistan has become a full member of ICC and has gained all the status of Cricket including Test status who used to lost to Nepal timely and often in other international matches? 

Have you ever thought about why Nepal hasn’t developed well in Cricket even the game is quite popular here for so long? 

Though Nepal has earned both T20 and ODI status, I still believe, Nepal hasn’t achieved the name and fame in the world of Cricket that it should have been achieved. Don’t you feel Nepal has been so late in achieving these statuses? 

Many of you may say that due to the political instability in the country, Cricket in Nepal hasn’t flourished in the way it should have been. 

Personally, I have analyzed and have found some points that directly and indirectly have been affecting Cricket in Nepal for a long time, resulting in not the development of Cricket in Nepal. I have enlisted these problems in 5 points. 

*Political Instability And Its Influence On CAN

This fact has not hidden from the Nepalese that how the political instability in the country has also influenced CAN and Cricket in Nepal. We already know that politics in Nepal has never been stable even for continue 3 or 4 years. An organization like CAN has to be connected with politics in a country like Nepal.

Even we are Nepali, we know how corruption plays role in government organizations. So there was very little chance that CAN won’t be affected by this corruption. Timely and often, several controversies and allegations have been raised against by the players. The formal captain of Nepal Cricket Team Paras Khadka had also slammed CAN for mistreatment with the national players. After Paras slammed CAN, 18 members including the then-president of CAN Tanka Aangabuhang were found guilty for many charges including the misuse of the budget given to CAN for the development of this sport in the country. After this incident, the CAN was dissolved by the government and later a new committee was established for CAN on an interim basis. 

Seeing the involvement of the government directly in the running of CAN in Nepal, ICC suspended the CAN in April 2016, and after more than 3 years, ICC lifted the suspension from CAN in October 2019. 

Well, these things came out because the captain of the National team had directly slammed the cricket governing body. So the government also had to investigate the charges. Otherwise, most of the Nepalese know well how CAN had been working in the development of Cricket in Nepal. 

*Ineffective Way Of Selection

Even the procedure of selection of players isn’t effective in Nepal. Nepal has produced some great players like Paras Khadka, Sandeep Lamichhane, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, etc over the years and these players have been proving their best ability in the matches. But still, there are many talents like them in the country who aren’t being given proper chances. 

Though every Nepalese know the popularity of Cricket in the Terai region of the country is much more than the rest of  Nepal, still we get to see very few players from Terai playing for the National team. The problem here isn’t there is any discrimination in the country, the main problem is the method of selection. 

Almost every player for the national team either it is for senior team, Under-19, or women team, the selection of the players is mostly done among the players who are involved in any club cricket or academy cricket. So in this method, the players involved with any club or academy mostly get a chance for selection either they are from any part of the country. And unluckily there are very few such academies of Cricket in the entire Terai region. One who can afford the academy cricket has at least a chance of selecting in the national team, while the one who can’t afford academy cricket has no such chances of playing for the national team, and the number of such youths is a lot more. 

I want to add one thing to this topic, but don’t get me wrong. Even the players from the Terai region who had been able to make their names on the national team haven’t got many chances though they have performed very well in the matches they have played. There have been players who had even made several world records in the past for Nepal but still, they were dropped out from the team for not performing in few countable matches. Since then, the names of such players have limited to the textbook only. We have also seen many players from other parts of the country making their names in the squad even delivering poor performances continuously in the numbers of games. So, literally, favoritism is also in Nepali cricket.

*Lack In Proper Infrastructures Of Cricket In The Country

For the development of anything in the country, the first thing that is needed most is the proper infrastructure and facilities for that thing to flourish and develop. But unfortunately, even having a history of Cricket for almost 100 years, neither the infrastructure nor the Cricket itself has developed in the country. 

Let’s forget about the facilities of Cricket in the rest of the country, even the national players aren’t facilitated well. It’s been more than 20 years since the Nepal Cricket Team has been playing international matches, but there is still no proper stadium for international matches. There is only one stadium called TU Ground where Nepal mostly played their matches that are hosted in the country. Apart from this, there is no stadium in the country with good facilities for the players as well as audiences who came to watch the matches. Due to the lack of proper infrastructure of Cricket, rarely any other Cricket playing nation visits Nepal. And this is one of the reasons of Nepal not being well promoted at the global level. 

Several projects have been announced in the past, some of them were either canceled or haven’t completed yet, even the time of these projects has surpassed. When you don’t have proper field and infrastructure that can match the international level of standard, you simply can’t fully make yourself so capable to compete internationally.  

The government of Nepal still hasn’t done something for the betterment of Cricket in Nepal that can inspire the national players as well as the youths of Nepal. After Nepal Cricket Team gained the ODI status on 15 March 2018, a popular NGO of Nepal known as Dhurmus Suntali Foundation announced that a project of construction of international level of Cricket stadium in the Bharatpur of Nepal without any help from the government just to encourage the national players so that they can have a proper international level stadium for the practice for international level matched. 

*Lack Of Domestic Cricket And Long Format Of Cricket

The one who follows Cricket for a long and has every idea about this game knows the importance of a longer format of the game called Test Cricket at the domestic level. The best and the quality players are always produced at the domestic level of test cricket. 

A country can get a good player from shorter forms of the game either they are from any academy or club. In a cricket academy, different techniques are taught which is good, but when it comes to implementing those techniques, you can’t implement and use your techniques in the limited over of Cricket effectively. That’s why the longer format of Cricket is known as Test Cricket because this format of cricket not only tests the techniques of the players, but it also tests all the aspects of the player including both physical and psychological.

In our country, both things lack a lot. There is somehow domestic cricket still alive in the country. But there is no existence of a longer format of Cricket in the country. The games that we have in the name of domestic cricket are the local and national levels of tournaments tagged as premier cricket which have been introduced for commercial purposes only. 

Until and unless, the domestic cricket won’t be improved in Nepal, and the longer format of cricket won’t be introduced in the country, the Cricket here won’t be flourished and the status of Cricket will be always same here as usual, no matter how far and popular will the domestic premier leagues tournament become in Nepal. 

*Lack Of Financial Support To The Players

In a country where there are many things missing in the field of Cricket, the lack of financial support won’t be new then. If there would have been good financial support to the players as well as to the governing body of Cricket, then surely Cricket would have been somehow different than the situation of today. 

Most of the youths who play cricket must have a dream to play for the country. And in a developing country like Nepal, even when the dream of some youths become true and they get a chance to show their talent for their country, they don’t get much financial support from the governing bodies. Once you began to play Cricket professionally, your source of income also become Cricket. Do you believe the income of players of the National Cricket Team through the government is less than the average income of Nepalese? 

The players though generate income through several brands endorsement and by playing premier league matches. This act somehow discourages many youths who have been dreaming of playing for the country.  Being playing for the nation, it is the duty of the government to support the players financially. 

Conclusion


Being a Cricket fan, I personally feel very sad when I always realize that our Nepal Cricket Team could have been much better than it is today. It really feels bad when we see a country like Afghanistan who used to lose to us in the past in international matches of Divison Leagues has become a permanent member of ICC by earning all the three status of Cricket including Test Cricket in a very short span of time., even Afghanistan is also one of the developing countries same as like Nepal. Today Afghanistan has made itself able to play against big teams like India, Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies, and others. 

The reason behind the success of Cricket in Afghanistan is that the Government Of Afghanistan has kept Cricket away from politics and has given full freedom to promote the game in the country. Today every year new talents are emerging through their domestic cricket. 

I have given you the example of Afghanistan because Afghanistan Cricket Team also used to be the same associate member of ICC the same as Nepal. Afghanistan seemed to be an even weaker team than Nepal while they are the associate member of ICC. But today, instead of appreciating the success of Afghanistan and learning a lesson from their success, we Nepalese are still stuck on debating Sandeep Lamichhane is better than Rashid Khan. 

Let’s wish now, things will change and the Cricket will again rise in Nepal and once it will rise, let’s pray it won’t fall again. Otherwise, Cricket in Nepal will be trapped in an endless loop of rising and fall.

Since everyone has their own way of thinking, you may not agree with me. So let me know in the comment box that you agree with me or not. I have tried to make you understand things as much as simple.

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