Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Review of ACC Emerging - Nepal

To start with the announcement that ACC Emerging would be a biennial tournament is a welcome decision. It will give the emerging Associate teams of Asia a very good exposure against good teams. Ideally the teams could have been part of Asia Cup, but it's better to have one bird in hand than two in the bush.

For the Nepal team it was perhaps the first time when they faced such a quality opposition. It should be perhaps a reflection of the opposition they will have to face regularly if they hope to get ODI status. But unfortunately they were placed in a oddly formed group of death. I do not know how ACC formed these groups. As per me the groups based on seeding should have been

Group A:- Ind U23, Bd U23, Afg, Sp
Group B:- SL U23, Pak U23, UAE, Nep

Anyhow Nepal had perhaps all the 3 top teams in it's group and a very big challenge to overcome. To start with they put up a very spirited performance against Afghanistan and perhaps dominated for 90% of the match but in the end sadly lost by 3 runs. It was the experience and temperament gained with it that lost them that match. The loss took such a toll that they were pretty much thrashed in the next 2 matches.

So what are the positives and negatives that the tournament offered. For the positives perhaps it is the exposure that team gained. Till now the team has been playing the likes of teams in Div 5 to Div 3 with weak teams like Mozambique to stronger ones like USA. But even the likes of USA and Uganda are no match to quality of India or Pakistan U23. This exposure will give each player an aspect to reflect upon and work on it. The coach can also make players work harder reflecting them on their weaknesses.
Secondly some individual good performances by Paras, Basant, Sagar & Subash would give a boost to morale of these players and give them confidence for upcoming matches. These were after all performances against some very quality sides.
Thirdly the overall tour of Sri Lanka and Singapore was able to give the coach the time and matches to experiment some younger players and different combination. The presence of quality opposition were the real test of the players

However the Negatives far outweigh the Positives. Firstly in the whole tournament reflected how the team lost it's self confidence. After the first match which did not go in their way, afterwards the team seemed to have lost morale and could not regain it in rest of the tournament. The big tournament is infact half mind games. You have the lows and then you have to bounce back. Except of few individual the team effort looked missing
Secondly the team failed in all aspects. Batting was a bigger let down as it failed in all 3 matches. Bowling also was pretty ordinary against the test teams. With such performances Nepal cannot hope to challenge the likes of Netherlands or Scotland it faces in future.
Finally it should be a realization of difference in the level between it and top teams which needs to be plugged for future. The team surely needs to work all areas especially building partnerships and rotating strikes & fast strike bowling.

So the next question comes what should be the future coarse. Is all the hope lost. No not at all. The team surely has the potential to be playing both 2014 World T20 and 2015 World Cup. However for that to happen the team needs to have a structure plan

1. The coach needs to work hard on the mental strength of the team which will help them to keep cool in the matches and also if required bounce back in tournament. As the level of competition will be much harder the bounce back will require much harder mental strength than what it was required in ICC WCL Div 3. If need be some experts can take some sessions with the team. This is an area which is usually ignored but very crucial.

2. Batting is the area that the team will have to work upon. For that if CAN can get some batting experts for two months, 1 month before T20 qualifier and 1 month before WCQ will be greatly helpful. The team has potential as shown by Paras, Subash and Sagar, but it would be building partnerships, running between wickets, working on technique that are more crucial than individual brilliance that is the need of the hour.

3. Pace Bowling is the Achilles heel of Nepal. The WCQ is in NZ and WC is also in Aus and NZ. In these places without a good pace strike bowling is huge disadvantage. Nepal's traditional strength of spinners can be easily blunted there. The young pacers of Sawad and Karn have shown some hope but much more needs to be done. These 2 along with the veteran Binod Das need to be given bigger exposure. They can be perhaps sent to NZ or Eng for some advanced training and getting acclimatized to the conditions there.

4. More quality exposure is key. The team got a good exposure in SL and Singapore. Now it will get back and work on the various opportunities. However to evaluate the progress the team is making CAN should ensure that they get to play quality team. For Dubai, a tour of Sri Lanka against similar oppositions they played this time would greatly help. If not there similar practice matches in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh would also do. If CAN is not able to arrange the same a 5 Match series against Afghanistan in UAE would perhaps a win win situation where both board can earn some revenue and good practice.

5. Finally there needs to be a special focus on WCQ in NZ. This tournament will be make of break for Nepali cricket. A good performance here will get Nepal ODI Status, more funding, a chance to play matches against test teams. play multi day matches in Intercontinental Cup. Hence this is the tournament. For the WCQ in NZ, CAN would have to get more proactive and get the team to play in similar conditions which can be NZ itself or Eng, Scot, Ire, Neth or Canada. These all are costly places but it would mean high risk but high returns.

These are some crucial times for Nepali Cricket. A good effort by the team, coach and board will be a game changer for the sport in the country or it can be a chance missed which everybody may be forced to woo for many years. Nepal does not need news like it has be fined by ICC but rather some proactive work by CAN who should wake-up from their sleep and finally contribute to the game in the country.