Just a month back, an excitement gripped the cricket fraternity when in a glittering ceremony telecommunication giants Ncell and Zohra Sports Management announced the arrival of Ncell Nepal Premier League — a three-month professional adventure of the sport that is excpected to be a breakthrough in domestic cricket.
At a time when domestic cricket is bruised by a single regional programme which couldn’t be more than a response to the ACC and ICC tournaments, NPL in fact is a huge relief for cricketers who have so far longed to enjoy the contemporary international practices that have been evident in the glitzy Indian Premier League.
As an Associate nation which is now getting its first ever professional cricket tournament, the NPL might not match the lucrative cash and glitzy colors of IPL, CPL or Australian Big Bash League but it will mean a lot to Nepal and its cricket. The total cash prize from the three tournaments in the NPL not even total one million rupees and neither the biggest match-fee of Rs 5,000 to the captains of the six franchises makes NPL a lucrative event.
But NPL is a beginning of a bright future of Nepali cricket in multiple aspects. As NPL incorporates three formats of the game in two-day, 50-over and Twenty20 cricket, the event is certain to produce cricketers according to the format. National team member Binod Bhandari has been a revelation in Twenty20 games, NPL can get more hitters like Bhandari.
If Shakti Gauchan can test the patience of the bowlers with his rock solid defense, the two-day event can be a medium to find the cricketers prone to longer version of the game. The same will be applied with 50-over cricket. The three formats no doubt will enable every cricketer to get them accustomed with each one of them as well.
Since the two-day and 50-over tournament will be played outside Kathmandu valley, NPL has probably given the thing that Nepal have been waiting for a long time — decentralization of cricket.
Except for some knockout tournaments organized by the particular cities, cricket has only been a capital thing in Nepal. The regional national tournament has not been able to cross the boundary beyond Kathmandu valley and a big event including the best cricketers of the country is not more than a distant picture for those out of the valley.
With the decentralization of the sport, more aspiring cricketers will get to see quality cricket right in front of them. More household will know what cricket is.
An exemplary preparation done by Dhangadhi for the two-day cricket has so far impressed everyone who has been with the game. The ground work at once a grazing field in Fapla is suddenly transforming into a fine cricket field. The whole of Dhangadhi has welcomed the idea of organising the NPL and the city is giving its every bit to prepare the best facility. Fapla is situated at the remote area of Boradandi and it is now in the verge of being accessible by road — NPL now means development as well. Fapla might host NPL for the first time and when the two-day event is over, the facilities will remain there and it could then be used by the future cricketers from the city.
Biratnagar and Rajbiraj have always been cricket crazy cities in the past and holding 50-over games of NPL will mean giving more fire to the excitement it holds.
NPL is barely a cricket tournament for Nepal, it also means establishing a cricket culture across the country, setting up the infrastructures at various places and producing more cricketers for future.
NPL could be a watershed for Nepali cricket.