Cricket is one of the most loved games in Nepal. And with the enthusiasm and fervor that is being displayed by young enthusiasts, the game is seeing brighter horizons. The performance of the Rhinos, the National team of Nepal has created hope for the future. They have led Nepal to be established as a big name in international cricket.
Cricket was first introduced to Nepal in the 1920s by Lt. Gen. Madan Shumsher JBR, the youngest son of the Rana Prime Minister, Maharaja Chandra Shumsher JBR. Considered as a Gentleman’s sport during that time, the game was limited to the aristocratic Rana family and other elite members of Nepal. Until the dawn of democracy in 1951, cricket solely belonged to the royals.
The year 1946 saw the formation of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) which was formed as a means to promote the game of Nepal among the aristocrats.
Later in 1961, the Cricket Association of Nepal was made part of the National Sports council with the aim to promote sports in the entire country.
Nepal’s entry into the ‘big playground’ began with becoming an ‘Affiliate Member’ of the International Cricket Council’ (ICC) in 1988. This triggered a major movement in the country that saw the inception of regional and district tournaments that began in the early 1990s.
The game picked up rapidly winning the interest of the local population in turn increasing its demand.
Nepal’s ties with the ICC strengthened, when it became an ‘Associate Member’ to the latter in 1996. That’s when Nepal played for ACC Trophy in Kuala Lampur, taking cricket for this land-locked country off the home-ground. Nepal beat Brunei and Japan to finish fourth among the six teams that qualified for the first round.
By 1998, Nepal had become self-sufficient to hold a match of international level. The ACC Trophy 1998 was hosted in Lalitpur, Kirtipur and Kathmandu. However, it did not win the tournament.
In 2004, Nepal played its first, ‘first-class cricket’ by playing for the ‘ICC International Cup’ against UAE and Malaysia. It managed to beat Malaysia but got left behind after failing to win the semi-final stage where it had a draw with UAE.
The 2008 ICC World Cup World Cricket League Division Five of the World Cricket League became a memorable year for Nepal when Mehboob Alam set a World Record of taking all ten wickets of the Mozambique team. His name was added to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first bowler to take 10 wickets in an ICC match.
The year 2010 saw Nepal win its first major tournament against USA in the final round of 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division Five in Kathmandu.
Nepal’s performance at the 2015 ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia qualified them for the 2015-17 ICC World Cricket League Championship. They failed to reach the face-off for the finals after they finished third in Division of the 2015 ICC World Cricket League. Although, Basanta Regime’s performance led him to become the first bowler to take 100 wickets in the World Cricket League.
After defeating Papua New Guinea on March 15, 2018 in the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier, Nepal won the One Day International (ODI) status for the first time. Also, Nepal has also regained T20 International status.
Nepal now has eyes for the Test status and the Rhinos captain Paras Khadka hopes to achieve it in another eight to ten years.
Despite Nepal’s tremendous performance in the field of cricket, the country is staggering over the absence of the game’s governing body, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN). Following the constant interference of politics in the administration of the game, the ICC had suspended the CAN in 2016.
While Nepal continues to perform fantastically at the international front, the country faces a crisis in terms of funding due to the absence of the CAN. This has badly hit internal matches that take place within the country and that are crucial in bringing out the best of players.
Commenting on the situation, the ex-CEO of the CAN says, “The development of cricket in Nepal is stagnant right now. Presently we have no administrative body as well as no money to run the game. Quite obviously, it has had a direct impact on our domestic cricket. Apart from a few privately-run tournaments, there hasn’t been any cricket in the country for the past two years. As a result, young talents are not coming up, which is affecting our team selection”.
In 2015, Ghimire was the first person to understand the need for an ODI status and mentioned it in her annual report. When the awaited status was finally award through her efforts, the CAN was dissolved.
However, she has not lost hope and goes on to say, ”I personally believe Nepal can achieve Test status by 2030, or even before that. We are perfectly capable. But until and unless we sort out our internal administrative issues, it doesn’t seem possible”.
In an attempt to address the administrative crisis, the newly appointed Minister for Youth and Sports in Nepal, Jagat Bahadur Bishwakarma has said that they need to start giving primary importance to finding a solution to the crisis at hand.
The One Day International Status has brought new hope to the Rhinos. The captain of the Nepali cricket team, Paras Khadka praised his team after their achievement of the ODI status. The six-wicket victory over Papa Guinea renewed the spirits of the players and gave them a promise of a golden tomorrow.
Dipendra Singh Airee and leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane ensured victory when both of them took 4 wickets each, leaving the opponent team staggering. Airee’s unbeaten half-century contributed to the much-coveted status.
Expressing his immense joy, Khadka says, “It’s massive it’s something we have worked towards for a very long time”.
“As a team we’ve been pushing ourselves. We’re very glad that we’re winning games through different situations, players are standing up and everyone’s contributing.”
“As a captain I’m happy to lead such an amazing bunch of boys.”
Nepal records an increase in attendance of up to 20,000 spectators. With a pipeline of achievements in the cricket scenario, there is growing enthusiasm among the local population.
On a hopeful note:
We hope that Nepal brings home many more trophies and honors and we see more and more young stars like Sandeep Lamichhane make their nations proud.
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