CA ready to assist Nepal
Apr 10, 2015-In a unique tribute to late Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, who died in one of the rarest incidents in world cricket last November, Nepal are holding the Phil Hughes Tribute Match at the TU Stadium on Saturday. The tribute campaign has attracted Cricket Australia Chairman and ICC Executive Committee head Wally Edwards along with ICC Head of Global Development Tim Anderson to Nepal. Adarsha Dhakal spoke to the two ICC delegates about the campaign and how the global cricket governing body is watching the progress made by Nepali cricket in the last few years.
Cricket Australia Chairman and ICC Executive Committee head Wally Edwards
The performance of the Associates have won many praise. But they are now left with slim chances of making it to the next World Cup. As the head of ICC Executive Committee, how do you look at it?
I don’t know what will happen at the next (ICC) meeting. I know the subject will get discussed and it’s a worthy subject to review. There is still a very open and vibrant qualifying process where any country can get to the World Cup. I think there is an element around may be more teams participating at the event. We will have a look at it but I don’t know what is possible because we have signed television agreements. So it will be a matter of working at what’s possible and saying what could be done.
Any sport governing body wants to globalise its game. Don’t you think the ICC decision is preventing cricket’s expansion?
I don’t think so. There is a very open qualifying process which should improve their cricket. The idea of ICC is to make the third year of the World Cup cycle all focused on developing nations. The whole year really is based around this big tournament where all the developing nations will play to qualify and without being sidetracked by the big nations.
Losing Phil Hughes, as a person and as a cricketer, is a huge set back to world cricket. How did you feel when Nepal approached CA for the Tribute Campaign?
It was overwhelming. We were in the midst of grief. And all of a sudden this one email came (from Cricket Association of Nepal) that said we are grieving over Philip’s death and like to have a game of cricket and take his bat and shirt together with flags to the top of Everest. It was a very moving moment. I am sure this event will bring the two nations together.
Before the CAN approach, how aware were you of Nepali cricket?
I obviously knew through ICC that cricket in Nepal is a very important sport. I have also seen Nepal play at various tournaments. The thing that struck me the most is the number of supporters and their enthusiasm when I saw Nepal play in Malaysia few years back. I think the skill levels are here because without playing good cricket you don’t qualify to World Twenty20. Once you get to a certain level, it then becomes experience.
Nepal have a huge pool of talent but due to financial constraints, lack of exposure and infrastructure, it has been unable to flourish. Is there anything Cricket Australia can do in these regards?
To be successful as a cricketing nation, you need a quality administration that runs the sport very well including the finances of the game. Certainly, Cricket Australia will assist in trying to train your administrators and help you understand how we run the game in Australia.
It has been said that the Associate nations, taking Nepal as an example, are not getting enough support from Full Members. Does CA have any policy of taking the cricket of Associates to another level?
I think this has been one of the weaknesses in world cricket for a long time. The big nations have just relied on the ICC to do things. I think it’s more important that the nations themselves get involved. We can assist at so many different levels. We can play together, train players and administrators. Now with some of the refocusing we have done at the ICC, this will happen.
ICC Head of Global Development Tim Anderson
ICC must have been closely monitoring the popularity of cricket that has soared in Nepal. Are there any plans in the ICC to keep this momentum going?
We’ve been extremely excited by the performance of national team particularly over the last 12 to 18 months. There is a huge amount of interest in cricket in Nepal and the team has done well at the U-19 level. But that wasn’t necessarily being shown with the senior team. Qualifying to the World Twenty20, moving up in the World Cricket League and now in the World Cricket League Championship, I think it’s a start of new journey for cricket in this country. We are here to help and want to get involved.
What measures should Nepal take to make sure they do well in World Cricket League Championship and go a step further?
There has to be a top quality international venue. ICC has got minimum standards that need to be met in order for T20I or ODI cricket to be played. We are having some discussion with CAN about how we can upgrade some of the facilities. CAN and the new CEO, together with coach and captain, have done a terrific job in providing some security of players. Some additional support around the team for the coach is important if you are going to be competing with some of the top Associates who travel with large number of support staffs. A continued improvement of the administration and management is critical.
Nepal have already played the ICC World Twenty20 and it also has potential to play 50-over World Cup. But the decision of ICC to make a 10-team World Cup is making path very tougher for every other Associate. Can your committee make any recommendations to push the ICC executive committee in giving more opportunity to a cricket mad country like Nepal?
The biggest positive for a team like Nepal is they have a clear opportunity to compete in the World Twenty20. The other point talking about the qualification structures is, they are now more based on merit. Full Members don’t get automatic qualification into the 2019 World Cup. That is big breakdown of the benefits received by Full Membership which has made automatic qualification.
Since other big nations have a tight calendar, Associates don’t have enough matches that can make them more competitive. Wouldn’t it be difficult for them to play directly in a tough Qualifiers?
We have been talking about the responsibility of some of the Full Members to engage some top Associates on a bilateral level. Particularly, some bottom Full Members that may not have sufficient cricket in their programmes are ready to play against the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan in particular. Its just a matter of bringing out these conversation to a level where it can be talked about more often. I think Nepal has got a real strong desire for those conversations to start taking place.
It has been already 10 months since Nepal earned Twenty20 International Status. What makes it so difficult for a team like Nepal to play frequent Twenty20 Internationals?
You cannot play T20I in a non-accredited venue. Nepal cannot play T20I at home and that all of a sudden makes a struggle. Being a part of World Cricket League Championship is significant not just in the qualification structure but the amount of international cricket that can be played. It’s a really important opportunity for Nepal at this time.
Published: 11-04-2015 08:59