Winning One Day International (ODI) series against the home country United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday within one year after the country’s team earned the ODI status in March last year, our cricketers have inspired optimism in youths living within and outside the country. As Nepali cricketers waived the cricket bat after hitting a winning shot against the UAE team at ICC Academy Oval in Dubai, a large number of Nepalis present at the same cricket stadium erupted in joy to celebrate the victory. Within minutes, the social media timeline was flooded with congratulatory messages from general fans, celebrities and politicians alike. As Nepalis staying in many countries joined the celebration on social media, it was evident that sports, and especially the cricket, can be a strong thread to unify Nepalis staying in any parts of the world.
The latest victory and the performance shown in recent matches held abroad have reinforced the fact that Nepali players have grown much mature to perform in matches played even outside the country. The fact that Nepal beat the opponents by chasing a comparatively big target of 255 runs set by the home country is strong indicator of Nepal rising in cricket. While winning the series, Nepali players—both batsmen and bowlers—showed outstanding performance. More importantly, as senior players such as Binod Das and Shakti Gauchan retired recently from the national team, a group of youth players such as Sandeep Lamichhane, Rohit Poudel, Sompal Kami and Karan KC, among others, have emerged with encouraging signs. Sixteen years old Paudel stole international limelight becoming the youngest batsman to score a half-century. He broke the world record of legendary cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar of India and Sahid Afridi of Pakistan. Such progress made by cricketers has inspired all Nepalis.
The progress made so far is largely the result of spontaneous public support, self-motivation of cricketers and craze of youths for the sports. Recent tournaments organized by private organizations have helped a lot to expand cricket to the grassroots. But unless the concerned government authorities take serious well-planned initiatives to develop cricket professionally, the series of success we are witnessing at the moment might prove to be short-lived. The country’s cricket bodies such as Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), which is suspended for years due to political meddling, must be properly institutionalized and run professionally. Another most important task for the government is to build infrastructure and formulate policies with regard to ensuring players’ livelihood so that they can fully concentrate their efforts on the sports. Sentiment alone can’t help anyone sustain in any profession for long. Therefore, more than just serving lip services with congratulatory messages and garlanding the players upon their arrival, the government must concentrate on specific tasks. The authorities must take some urgent steps to complete the under-construction Mulpani Cricket Stadium as soon as possible, keep the CAN out of political meddling and formulate some policies for development of the sector immediately. We have seen how some countries that were established as powerful cricket nations have miserably failed in performance due to failure of the authorities to provide professional environment to their cricket stars. Nepal should guard itself against that fate.