The Dashain could not have started better for the cricket lovers. For the eve of it has been good. For the first day of the festival has come after three consecutive victories for Nepali women. That’s a good omen, even if we’re talking about the age group players.
It was a delight to keep eyes to the websites that showed scores for the event (No the cricket sites are not too keen on covering women’s cricket live!), as you could see the matches heavily tilted towards our girls. Nary Thapa did herself proud by clinching man of the matches on two occasions while Nepal saw its first women player scoring a half century in an international competition, as Manisha Rawal scored 62 to bat out the hapless Singapore girls.
Now that’s for those who love watching shorter format of the game. For the purists, the days preceding the festival also saw one VVS Laxman delighting them, with a sore back and not-at-all sore stroke playing in a tense Test match against his favourite nemesis, Australia.
These two events, strikingly different in terms of viewership and news coverage, have but one thing in common. That of historical perspective towards both VVS and the women’s cricket.
VVS Laxman, for his entire career, which has spanned a small matter of 100 Test matches, has been playing for his place in the team. Despite being hailed by the Aussies – who’ve been the top ranked team for the most part of the cricketing action we’ve seen – as Very Very Special (VVS) Laxman, he was always in the sidelines. For he was no pin-up boy for the cricket crazy nation, who love to see cricketers in the television commercials, and if possible Bollywood movies too. He had been more about substance than style, unless you are a purist and love leg glance over slog sweep. For most part of his career, he shied away from interviews, when other cricketers were busy participating in reality shows. With him, it was more about the perseverance you see over the five days of Test cricket than the adrenaline pumping drama of limited overs format.
The girls in our U-19 team have gone much similar. Their dominance in the Asian circuit, sans Test playing nations, is slowly being established. For them, it’s less about the basketball styled high-fives we see in men’s cricket (even at the club levels). It’s so far been more about subtlety, and going about their jobs well, almost unnoticed.
Of course, world over, women’s cricket gets less attention than the men’s version. If that was not the case, a The 25-minute-long documentary on Indian women cricketers Anjum Chopra, Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj, would not be called Poor Cousins Of Million Dollar Babies. And if that was not the case, the film would not have taken 5 years in the making, instead of a regular time of 5 months.
For us, it’s probably time to realise that women’s cricket is also a serious game, and not only when we’re playing international matches. For we can have a good team, only when the internal competition is intense. Nary Thapa may have made us happy with her performance. But we depending upon a national player in an age-group championship does not show that we’ve got a strong pool of players. Somewhere, Cricket Association of Nepal will have to seriously think about it. We’ve already messed that up, when dealing with men’s cricketers in age-group championships. Repeating the same in women’s arena would be the last thing we’d look for.
VVS Laxman may live his entire cricketing career in oblivion, and yet not complain. Perhaps that’s what gets him going, firing when it matters, silently. For, he has earned enough credentials as cricketer now. But for Nepal’s women cricketers, they would need a buzz, and perhaps enough clamour to keep them going in cricket. For without it, some good talents may go into oblivion.
But the question is: Is CAN – whose website still has a member in its organogram more than a year after his demise – ready to think modern?
(The author writes weekly cricket column for The Kathmandu Post. His columns will also appear here. He blogs at www.somesh.com.np and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)