All the cricket lovers in the country including me are building high hopes with Nepalese cricket. Why should not we? As we have seen some inspirational performance by our Nepalese team at both junior and senior level in recent past. However, being a cricketer my worries aggravates when I see the deteriorated domestic structure cricket in the country. For the development of the cricket it is imperative to have good domestic structure of the cricket.
If we look at the domestic cricket structure at international level, Australia has toughest domestic structure of cricket amongst all other test playing nations. In contrary, India and Pakistan doesn’t have as good domestic structure as Australia has. The result of this is clearly seen in the performance of Australian team and Indian and Pakistani team. One example I can share with the readers, based on my own experience while playing club matches in India and Pakistan. The umpiring standard at domestic level cricket in India and Pakistan was far below than they actually should have. I was surprised to hear from the opponent team in Delhi, that they would have their own umpire while they bat and we can have our own while we bat. Quite similar structure I experienced in Karachi as well, where umpires would play as supper sub to protect the win for the host.
Moreover, they did not have full playing condition of ICC applied in the match. Like they did not have field restriction rule in the game and team bowling second could place all the nine fielders along the boundary line. This certainly doesn’t help the players as they get undeserved success most of the time and really don’t work hard to improve their game. And when these players are exposed to full playing condition of the ICC rule with neutral umpires they struggle. This is probably one reason behind teams of the Indian subcontinent struggling against Australia despite their immense talent.
I am sharing all these just to support my views of importance of strong domestic structure of cricket for better performance at higher level. In our countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prospect if we go into flash back and review about nine years long Nepalese international cricket, there is considerable change in domestic cricket structure of the country. Till the year 2000, when Nepal did not as much scope to play international cricket as it has today. Till that time would see at least three to four national level tournaments, participating almost all the elite cricketers of the country. Apart from these, we used to have one district level tournament organized by CAN, which would have 16 districts participating across the country. The benefits of these national tournaments were huge, as in every tournament it would unearth few new talents. We would get to see some nail biting contest between the team, which would help to enhance the match temperament of the players. Further, it has huge benefits to young cricketers, who would get to play with seniors and learn a lot from them. If we have look at the current players in the national team, most of them had this opportunity at the young age. Binod Das, Paresh Lohani, Mehboob Alam, Sanjam Regmi, Dipendra Chaudhay, Raj Kumar Pradhan, Shakti Gauchan, all had played competitive domestic structure cricket at the beginning of their cricketing career.
However, after 2000, the competitive domestic level cricket has really dried up. We hardly see good national level tournament being organized in the country. This year also, there has not been any national level tournament so far (December end). All we see some college and school level tournament happening, that too within the valley only. This will definitely not help to develop the cricket through out the country. Players in other parts of the country will loose the interest in the game in absence of an opportunity to play good matches. Neither will they have the opportunity to taste their talents in the match and gain more confidence.
Now, we must have a strong domestic structure of cricket. Earlier, domestic structure of cricket was conducted by private sectors, with the initiative of few crazy cricket lovers around the country. Now since, the cricket in Nepal has grown, and these cricket lovers were not given due respect, they have taken back seat. Apart from one regional level national tournament which accommodates only six teams from six regions there is no other national level tournament organized on a regular basis. But, if we want to have consistent performance by our team we need to be in continuous process of grooming new cricketers as a successors of our existing players and this can happen only through strong domestic cricket structure.
(Pawan has captained Nepali side and was a regular member of the national side during 1996-2001)