EDITORIAL: On the front foot

It is high time the government paid serious attention to the promotion of cricket and welfare of the players

It was yet another match that went down to the wire on Wednesday in the ICC World Cricket League Division-II in Namibia, where Nepal made a miraculous comeback to register a one-wicket win over Canada. With the victory, Nepal booked their berth in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers to be played in Zimbabwe from March 4 to 25. Nepal’s disastrous start with just 22 runs on board at the loss of two wickets in the sixth over—and by the 43rd over Nepal were reduced to 144-9—made Nepalis home and abroad atwitter. But the last pair of Karan KC, who was declared man of the match for his 31-ball 42, and Sandeep Lamichhane, who played an instrumental role in keeping Nepal’s hopes alive throughout the tournament by his bowling, saw their team home in the last ball, sending the fans home and abroad into frenzy. Wednesday’s was a match that Nepalis would like to cherish for long, as the cricketers once again held their nerves and proved their mettle to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Nepali cricketers rightly proved that “it is not over till it’s over”.

Nepal now will play in the Qualifiers along with four Test playing nations—the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland—and the Netherlands, Scotland, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates next month. The matches to be played in March will be crucial, as they could open the doors for Nepal to become the One-Day International team. So there are positives abound. But what is sad is despite Nepali cricketers proving themselves time and again, cricket administration in Nepal has been in a shambles. The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) remains suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world cricket governing body. Domestic tournaments and camps in Nepal have been few and far between. The country hugely lacks infrastructure. There are hardly any incentives for the players. Nepali cricketers, who have brought tremendous joy to Nepalis, have been playing the game for their sheer love for the sport.

It is high time the government started paying serious attention to promotion of cricket and welfare of the players. Rs 2.5 billion allocated for the sports sector is just too little. The government needs to set aside separate budget for cricket. Focus should be on developing infrastructure and domestic tournaments. Regular cricketing camps should be organised to identify and promote new talents. Cricket is one sport in which Nepalis have been doing tremendously well, due to which there is a huge attraction among youths towards the sport.

The country abounds in talents; there is a need to identify them. Similarly, a cricket academy should come into operation at the earliest so as to promote the sport. By developing infrastructure, Nepal can also make a pitch for making the country a neutral venue for international matches. Politicisation of the sport also should end and CAN should be made robust, free from politics and fully functional. For now, recognising the Nepali cricketers’ feat, the government should honour the players and reward them for making the country proud.

Deep tele-density 

Nepal’s tele-density has reached 141.8 per cent so far due to aggressive expansion of the telecom services by various telephone companies across the country. According to Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), subscription of voice telephony service (fixed, mobile and others) has reached 37.5 million till mid-December 2017. The telephone penetration measures the percentage of a country’s population with access to telephony services. It means that the telephone service has exceeded the country’s total population.

But it does not mean that all people possess one or the other form of telephone service as many customers use more than one SIM cards. Nepal’s total population is 26.49 million. The state-owned Nepal Telecom is the biggest company having 18.5 million subscribers followed by Ncell that has 16.5 million subscribers. There are four other telephone companies whose subscription is around one and less than one percent. However, use of internet/data service hovers around 17 per cent and it is concentrated in urban areas. On an average, more than 6,500 new users are connected to internet/data service every day.