Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar praised Nepal’s youth team as the King of the game.
Remembering his interaction with the Nepali youth team when they played the Youth World Cup in New Zealand in 2002, Gavaskar lauded the youthsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ cricket and advised the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) to provide them more exposure. He also suggested taking advantage of the proximity with neighboring countries which play top-level cricket.
“There is a lot of talent and enthusiasm; and the crowd is the most encouraging thing,” said Gavaskar, who was shown a 20-minute highlight of the ACC U-19 Cup final. “But your team needs more exposure.”
The original ‘Little Master’ of the game of cricket, Gavaskar visited the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground, offered a few tips to the Nepali Under-19 team preparing for the Youth World Cup next year and appeared before the press, on the fifth day of his holiday in the Himalayan Kingdom.
When asked about Nepal’s chances of emerging as the neutral venue for One-Day International (ODI) matches, Gavaskar suggested to begin with organizing matches for ‘A’ teams. “The way to go forward for this should start with inviting A teams rather than looking straight for the ODIs,” he said.
Gavaskar played for India from 1971 to 1987. His record for most number of Test centuries, 34, was broken last Saturday by Sachin Tendulkar when he scored 109 against Sri Lanka. “Records are meant to be broken,” he said. “It’s a relief for me as well as him and I am happy that my countryman, who is also a good player, broke it.”
Gavaskar, who is also chairman of the Cricket Committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) that introduced new rules of power-play and super-sub in ODIs, said the two new rules received mixed reactions. “Power play was necessary because ODIs were being more predictable,” he said. “Judging from the captainsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ reactions, it’s gone down well. In substitution rule, there is some reservations from captains.” He added that the rules will be reviewed at the coming ICC Executive Meeting.
Gavaskar looked relaxed during the conference. After watching the ACC U-19 Cup final highlight, he said: “Looking at the way your new ball bowlers swung the ball, thank god I retired early”. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didn’t need it because I had nothing to protect insideÃ¢â‚¬Â was his reply when asked why he chose not to wear a helmet during his playing days.
He also said he felt ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘touched’ when he was offered a goodwill ambassadorship of Nepal, the country he praised as the best destination for relaxing holidays.
“When the Nepal Tourism Board CEO, Tek Bahadur Dangi, offered me the goodwill ambassadorship, I was overwhelmed because that offer has never come to me from the government of India,” Gavaskar said. “It’s touching. I can assure you all that if I could do that for NTB, I am most likely to do so.”
This was the second visit to Nepal by the legendary batsman. “If anybody wants to relax in a completely peaceful manner, Nepal is the best place to come to,” he enthused. “Perhaps the most important thing is the welcoming smiles of the people. I’m delighted to take back the memories.”
Gavaskar is returning to India on Friday. “It is not something I am really looking forward to,” he said. “Whenever people return home from holidays, they look forward to it, but not when leaving Nepal.”
All Photos: Bikash Karki