Nepal cricket stocks rise with Roy Dias
EVER since former Sri Lanka batting star Roy Dias took charge of
running the cricket affairs at Nepal, the country's cricketing stocks
has gone only in one direction. That is skywards.
People start giving unusual stares when one tries to connect Nepal
with cricket. There was this incident related by Dias when Nepal took
part in their first under 19 World Cup tournament in New Zealand in 2001
and performed well to reach the Plate final where they lost to Zimbabwe
led by the present national captain Tatendra Taibu.
"Some of the BBC reporters were not sure whether Nepal played
cricket," said Dias. "One guy asked me how you play cricket in the
Dias believes that the tournament was the beginning for the
development of cricket in Nepal. The country was fortunate enough to
have a qualified coach as Dias to guide them on the correct path.
How much Nepal has improved over the past five years can be gauged by
the fact that the 2006 under 19 World Cup which will be held in Sri
Lanka from February 5-19 will be Nepal's third year of participation.
According to Dias the domestic cricket structure in Nepal is 'not
that great', but overall Nepal has come a long way.
"If you take the age groups under 15, 17 and 19, they fall into the
best," said Dias.
"This is our third under 19 World Cup under my coaching. Apart from
the four Test-playing countries in Asia, Nepal is the strongest."
"Most of these kids have a lot of talent. It is just that the
exposure is not enough. They believe in themselves that they are good
enough to take part in any tournament. I am quite happy with them
because I run the cricket show there," said Dias.
"I have worked these boys for the past five years and know them
inside out. It is easy for us to understand each other. Even the senior
team has about 6 players from the under 19 side and the future for them
Unlike other non-Test-playing Asian countries, Nepal does not rely on
expatriates to make up their cricket eleven. Their team is strictly
players of Nepalese origin and because of it they stand a very good
chance of stealing a march over their rivals.
"What these guys need to improve their cricket is to play stronger
teams outside their country. There is no school structure. They learn
the basics of the game only when they come together in a national pool
at the various age group levels," said 53-year-old Dias who represented
Sri Lanka in 20 Tests and 58 ODIs between 1981 and 1986.
"Most of their cricket is played on matting. They are very keen to
learn and they are very friendly people more like Sri Lankans and give a
lot of respect. For me it was a challenge accepting this job," continued
"When I took the job and first saw them playing, I thought I had made
a mistake by coming to Nepal. But later on when we kept on improving I
saw in them that they had it in them to become good cricketers. It is
just that they lacked someone to advice them, especially a person who
has played at the top level. They believe in me and they are a much
disciplined lot," he said.
Soccer is there main sport in Nepal but by way of results achieved
during the last 3-4 years cricket has taken over. With India being so
close to them Nepalese have the facility to all TV sports channels.
"They watch a lot of cricket. They have learnt the game watching
cricket on television and by listening to commentaries," said Dias.
Nepal are the first out of the 16 participating countries for the
2006 under 19 World Cup to arrive in Sri Lanka.
"We have come two weeks before the tournament because at this period
of time it is very cold in Nepal. There is no point practicing there
because conditions are different," said Dias.
Nepal is greatly indebted to the ICC and the ACC who are doing a lot
of funding for their cricket. "Without their help I don't think Nepal
cricket would have got anywhere. We don't have many sponsors," said
Nepal are drawn in Group D with England (whom they will be meeting
for the third time in the tournament), Zimbabwe and Ireland.
"Hopefully I think on Sri Lankan wickets we might have a slight
chance of upsetting England," said Dias. "The guys are very keen.
Initially bowling and fielding were our strong points, but the batting
has got going. We have a balanced side. I will be happy if we can get to
the last eight."
Apart from doing well in the 2006 under 19 World Cup, Nepal's
greatest ambition is to qualify to play in the ICC Inter-continental Cup
which would enable their senior side to play matches of longer duration.
Their cricket today comprises largely of limited overs.