Saturday, 14 April 2012

Dassanayke: Missing Pacers & Exposure?

When Nepal went into the ICC World Twnety20 Qualifiers they were the bottom most seeded teams. All the teams were had played Div 3 or above, Nepal had the highest as Div 4. Nepal was considered a better team in the ODI format and were not expected to make much impact in the T20 format

But the team under the new Dynamic coach Pubudu Dassanayke surely exceeded all the expectation. To start with they came 7th in the tournament and in the process defeated teams like former World Cup semi finalists Kenya, Former World Cup team Bermuda, along with Div 2 teams PNG, HK and Div 3 (Now 4) team Denmark.

The team had many positives from the tournament and some before them. Before the tournament there were some reshuffle's in CAN. Elections also took place. Then a small step towards Central Contracts was taken. A stipend of 5000 Rs was started for all the players.

On the field the batting showed some promise. Batsman were able to have the confidence to try some new shots. The Spin bowling always a strength came in full strength through Shakti Gauchan. The team could be seen challenging the bigger names like Canada.

Having said all that the tournament also exposed some areas where it needs to address them very seriously if it wishes to be along the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland.

Nepal surely need a match winner like Hamid Hassan

1. Pacers (Fast Bowling)
The best teams in the tournament had some of the best pacers be it Dawlat Zadran the sensational pacer of Afghanistan or be it Boyd Rankin of Ireland. The best test teams have always have had a some form of Battery of Pacers, be it Bret Lee, McGrath or Allan Donald or Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar.

Indians who are not known to have the best Pace Battery but always have a Pacer who is a match winner. Zaheer Khan was critical for India and helped them win the World Cup.

Presently Nepal does not have a quality pace attack and without them it would struggle. This is an area that is ultra critical to Nepal and their cricket future. The coach has already taken an effort where he went with a speed gun but alas not much results. Not to be demoralized with the same, the management simply needs to go on a national wide hunt of a pacer. They need to get some young, raw talent and develop him for the future. If you know some one share about him and help your national team

Keeping the 2015 World Cup in sight this effort should start immediately without any delay

2. Exposure
The way team played and gave against Netherlands and Canada was a case of pressure taking over the team and not because they were inferior to these teams. The team did play some practice matches against local clubs in Delhi and sources tell that CAN was not even ready for that. They did not much hopes from the team and want to "waste" money on the effort

Exposure plays critical role in building the team temperament and let's the captain and coach know much more about the players. Taking cue from my old times, when I played cricket after a long time I was rusty. The rustiness was over, but playing cricket inside my gully team brought saturation in the learning curve. It was when we played more matches against other teams that we could explore our own strengths and weakness and how to overcome the X factor

Similarly Nepal team playing closed camps will saturate. Many players have openly stated the need for the same. If the team had got to be a part of Ranji in 2003-4 then it could have been on the lines of Bangladesh. That oppurtunity though lost, and letting past be the past the management should give team more exposure.

The exposure can be either playing the domestic league either in India or Sri Lanka. It could also mean inviting other Associate team like Afghanistan, Ireland, UAE to come and play matches in all 3 forms. The team could also tour other countries where it can get exposure to different conditions.

This would need CAN to get out of it's rusty set up and think for the future and be more assertive in contacting more boards. Ireland have been very aggressive on this aspect and it has helped them over time. Such was the impact that team has performed really well, but also even though Ireland suffered one of the worst case of European Crisis, the team never lost a sponsor.

This would be very critical times for the Nepal team. The coach has been making the right impact, but he surely needs help from the Board on the above 2 factors. The coach get that then the team surely can knock the doors of the top 10 nations. Best of luck

Time for a Peace Series

Sports is a big uniting force. This is not a new fact but known to almost all. When Pakistan played Afghanistan in Sharjah, the though usually divided nation was completely united behind the match. President Hamid Karzai was known to be curious about the score. The biggest thing however which should raise eyebrows is that even Taliban called and wished luck to the cricket team and have openly declared that they will continue to support Cricket even after they come to power.

Remember this is the same Taliban who had banned all sports including even Kite Flying!!!! How come they are supporting Cricket. Well that is the power of sports, that it can melt even the most of the hardliners too.

Can the 4 Captains be the Peacemakers- MS Dhoni (Ind), Misbhah (Pak), Nowroz Mangal(Afg) & Sushil Nadkarni (USA)

Now what would be the most vulnerable place that can cause the 2012 Myth to come true? No it is not Israel. I give you a hint, that Area contains about a fifth of World Population, it has 2 of the 9 countries with Nuclear Weapons. Yes you got it right. It is South Asia.

Peace and South Asia are not synonymous. At one side we have 2 biggest Rivals India and Pakistan. Then we have Afghanistan where the word peace is tipped to be knocked off the Dictionary. The others do not also fare better. The USA lead forces with all their might have been trying to bring control in the countries but without much results.

But where Bullets and Bombs could do nothing, the Ball can do a lot. Not any other ball but over favorite Cricket ball should come into play. Afghanistan is a cricket mad country. USA is the second biggest cricket market due to the influential South Asian community there. Besides USA and Afghanistan itself, India and Pakistan are also major players for peace in the country. Without these 2 nothing will move forward and inch and what is good, these 2 nations are also absolutely cricket crazy.

USA has tried the other route and perhaps it is the time where it should move ahead and try this route to move ahead. Let the rivalries come out on the Cricket pitch and not in the countryside.

US should declare the intention of a peace series to kick start the stalled peace process and go ahead and invite the teams from Ind, Pak & Afg to visit USA and host a quadrangular series the "Peace Series". It should push the governments to arrange for teams to take out time for these series. Obama can surely push Sharad Pawar, Manmohan Singh, Gilani & Karzai to force the 4 boards to send their best teams.

Can Obama arrange the 4 boards to come for the Peace Series

 Imagine the likes of India and Pakistan playing each other. The though of the 2 in the peace series will create vibe all over the world. Involving Afghanistan and USA would bring a much more holistic perceptive. Afghans surely will be happy to be involved with the 2 best cricket nations and the nation can feel proud behind their team. USA Cricketers will relish the chance to play these 3 top teams which they may never get in the country. A lot of goodwill can be created in all the 3 South Asian countries for USA. Perhaps the cricket emotional South Asians would be happy to support Obama for next elections for raising the profile of their favorite sports in their country.

USA which has got a lot of negative publicity in Pak & Afg would get many positive vibes as sports makes people forget everything. With such a positive start then it can be followed by more diplomatic initiatives. Cricket is the ice breaker that USA presently needs.

Lastly the ICC should also encourage such a move as
1. Cricket will make all the right moves in it's strategic market of USA
2. It can generate lot of revenues for ICC if it decides to organize it
3. ICC get a good name

At present there is no such talk, but if US was to open it's eyes, it is one of the significant ways to get all the moves right with just 1 sports tournament. I hope that some diplomat in US will look outside for ideas and makes peace return to a fifth of world population.