Desperate to change the course of history, Nepal national team cricketers are entering the journey of their lifetime when the 2014 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers begins in New Zealand from Monday.
The tournament holds a great significance to an underdeveloped country like Nepal where infrastructure and domestic structure has failed to provide minimum exposure to the cricketers. With World Cup berth and four-year one-day status at stake, the Nepali boys will give everything in their bid to realise a dream that took the first steps through the 1996 ACC Trophy.
Nepalis across the globe recently joined their cricketers to celebrate the euphoria of qualifying for the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 — the biggest achievement so far in the country’s sporting history — but coach Pubudu Dassanayake knows there is even a bigger prize he can hand to the country.
“Qualifying for World Twenty20 is a bonus. It is only momentary. The biggest reward for us will be reaching the 50over World Cup and gaining the ODI status. For the last one-and-half years, we have worked really hard for that,” Dassanayake had said before leaving for New Zealand, where the team played three unofficial and two official practice matches.
Skipper Paras Khadka has always been vocal over the indifference of cricket administrators regardless of the height the sport has scaled and he believes the country’s cricket will take a right direction if the team succeeds in New Zealand. “There will be more cricket for us if only we gain the ODI status. There will be funding from the ICC, more programmes has to be brought forward and hopefully we have a proper structure that will secure future for cricketers.
World Cup no doubt will be the biggest prize for us and the focus will be there to achieve everything on offer,“ said Paras.
Only way out
Promptly after landing in Nepal for the first time in 2010, Dassanayake had told reporters that he was here to take Nepal into the World Cup. Grinding himself into the Nepali cricket administration and fighting with the system, Dassanayake managed to prepare a team from the old set of boys guiding them to the World Cricket League Division-IV, Division-III and ACC Trophy Elite titles.
During his two-year stay so far, Dassanayake has forwarded several proposals including the introduction of two-day regional tournament, preparing Nepal `A’ team and a fullfledged High Performance Committee. But to his dismay saw all of them procrastinated.
Frustration might have crossed the limits when he had to train his boys in a temporarily-built indoor hall at the International Sports Complex just to avoid monsoon as Nepal were preparing for the Division-III tournament for Bermuda.
Dassanayake still believes accomplishing the Qualifiers mission is the only way out to break the deadlock in cricket. “Reaching World Cup or gain ing ODI status will have every thing at its place. ICC will only release the grant for an ODI nation if only CAN recruits a CEO who has to come up with development programmes. We have been in dire need of CEO and returning successfully from New Zealand is the only way out for us,“ the coach said.
If Nepal reach the World Cup, the ICC will release a grant of $1.6 million -for 28 ODIs, 14 four-day games to be played inside 18 months, salary for CEO and players along with other development programmes. The ODI status will fetch Nepal a grant of $1.2 million, while the number of matches will remain the same.
The ODI matches will be played under the World Cricket League Championship and four-day games come under the Inter Continental Cup.
All about calculations
Along with Asian archrivals the UAE and Hong Kong in Group `A’, Nepal will also have to overcome the challenges from Scotland and Canada to have a shot at the World Cup spot. Rounding up inside the top three from the group stage will see them through to Super Six but it will still not be enough to gain an upper hand.
The Super Six teams will carry points — earned against the matches of fellow qualifiers only — from the group stage.
The teams from one group will then play against all the three sides from the other group which will determine the fates of the teams. The finalists will qualify for the 2015 World Cup and gain ODI status along with the teams rounding up in the top four. The remaining two will be considered for Inter Continental Cup.
Dassanayake wants his team to head into the Super Six with full four points. “We will get through from our group but to fancy a chance at the World Cup and gaining ODI status, we need to win all our games up front. We have come through a long way and we can’t afford to slip up now,“ Dassanayake said.
Note :- This story was published on sunday’s edition of THT.