27 November 2013- The day still brings smiles to faces of all Nepalese when Nepal encountered Hong Kong to beat them off the last ball in a thrilling quarter final to qualify for their first ever T20 world cup finals. The country had witnessed countless memories in the cricketing world till that date and after, but this victory stood apart from the others. However, this popular game in Nepal, just next to football, has a long history associated with it. It dates to 1920s when the game was first introduced in Nepal by the Rana regime from one of theirs’ return from England. It was only after the 1950s revolution that the popularity of this game gained traction after its introduction to public. Since then, Cricket association of Nepal has been formed to operate as the governing body of cricket in Nepal and recognized by National Sports Council. The Men’s national team then played their first international match almost 23 years ago playing the ACC Trophy in 1996. Since then, our players have been showing the cricketing world what they are capable of. The women national cricket team made their debut in 2007 playing the Asian Cricket Council Women’s Tournament. In Bangladesh in 2014. Nepal made its maiden appearance in the ICC global event at 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. Despite being a nation with limited resources in comparison to cricketing giants, the world has bore witness to the prowess of our national time often. Victories over world cup playing nations such as New Zealand U-19 team, South Africa U-19 team, Afghanistan, Netherlands are some of the major milestones of the Nepalese cricket team.
However, the game has not evolved without friction. Time and again, its development flow has been affected with frequent disturbances and inefficiencies from its governing body. The ICC suspended the CAN in 2016 owing to governmental interference as the global body ran operations and hired personal staffs to oversee the operations. Consequently, Nepal’s funding was discontinued and stagnated domestic cricket and halted several structural developments. Nepali Cricket has long been affected by politics and corruption. The lack of proper infrastructures and regulations have long hindered the progress of the game in the nation.
Entrepreneurs, sponsors and even fans all extended financial help pumping cash into the Nepali game and reinstated CAN in 2019. Today, Nepal attracts foreign star players in its leagues and is gaining rapid momentum with establishment of new leagues every year. To train the country’s future players, several talent academics have popped up throughout the country. Cricket board estimates there are over 100 of these academics operating today.
Some of the major popular cricket grounds of Nepal are:
- Tribhuvan University Ground, Kirtipur, Kathmandu
- Pokhara Stadium Complex, Pokhara
- Mulpani Upper Ground, Mulpani
- Siddhartha Stadium, Rupendehi
These handful of infrastructures prove insufficient and more of these structures need to be constructed. The kickoff of the construction of Gautam Buddha international Cricket Stadium in Chitwan has stirred up the topic and hopefully it will move to its completion in due diligence time which will facilitate international playoffs in Nepal. The government needs to pace up on its funding and extend its support to the game for a better future of the game.
Our players have showcased their talent across multiple platforms proving their talent. Despite the lack of proper structure and facilities, they have shown high level of persistence and consistency over the years and have demonstrated so at the international level. Sandip Lamichhane is one such cricket player of this country who has gained international attention playing in IPL and several other international franchises exhibiting his ability. There is no doubt of potential of Nepalese cricket if backed by proper grooming and infrastructure that are helpful towards upbringing new talent. We sure hope the talents to deliver in future and believe them to bring home the world cup trophy one day as visioned by our former national team captain. There are certainly many other hidden gems of Cricket across country corners, waiting to be discovered like diamonds in mines.