See the Nepali women’s cricket team qualify for the World Cup.
Three ways to realize the vision:
1) Hold more quality match-practice sessions.
2) Lobby with ICC for more international games in Nepal.
3) Plan a proper fitness program for each player.
I have been playing cricket for the past 12 years and have already sacrificed a lot for it. I quit my studies and many other personal projects for this game. At this point, I have to prove to myself the worth of my struggle and renunciation. The best way I can do so is by helping Nepal qualify for the upcoming Women’s Cricket World Cup by doing well in the qualifiers in Sri Lanka this December.
The situation of Nepali cricket used to be miserable, especially for women. The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) faced a ban and there was no room for any domestic tournament. We managed to play only a handful of matches and could not achieve expected results because of insufficient training, fitness, and diet.
Ahead of international matches, selected players were invited for 10-15 day closed camp. There was a time when we were confined to our homes due to the lack of international and domestic matches. No organization or the government cared about us. But today I see a bright future for women cricketers. Our association has been reinstated and it has new plans and projects. Domestic matches are being organized regularly. I think there is a separate place and environment for women’s cricket. We need better plans but their timely implementation is also necessary.
In sports, spectators play a key role. Every one of us needs fans, well-wishers, and critics to improve our performance. Our supporters fill the gap our government, officials, and association leave behind. The board hierarchies come and go but our supporters remain. Their encouragement for the players and respect for the game inspires us. The cheer and applause we receive help us perform well and Nepalis never fail to provide that. But the same fans disappoint us sometimes. As I said, the words of our supporters matter—they sometimes accuse us of silly things.
I have heard people say, “Women cricketers should have played the World Cup before the men did”. They don’t understand why we didn’t. I request them to try to dig up the reasons behind it rather than demotivating the team, if only unknowingly. In 2012, we used to defeat teams that had qualified for the World Cup. But at home, we were never given the opportunity to play domestic cricket and other tournaments. CAN was banned, and the National Sports Council could organize only a handful of matches a year.
How could we perform well consistently? For instance, Thailand Cricket Association sends its players to train in countries like India and Australia. But it is difficult for us to even get a coach or practice. How can you expect us to play the World Cup then?
That said, I don’t ask our supporters to glorify us, irrespective of how we play. Criticize us—it will help us grow—but only when we make mistakes. The only thing I want to say is, the media and other related bodies should write about what is really happening, what is actually hindering our progress.
Uninformed people might not know the real deal. For instance, the work CAN is doing now for women’s cricket, if it had done that five years ago, things would have been vastly different today. We could have played the World Cup for sure. To be honest, the association wasted five years of the cricketers’ careers.
We know our limits and we also know we can play the World Cup. But until we get good infrastructure, we can’t progress. This might sound bitter, but it is what it is. I must be vocal as these things need to be addressed. I’m on the verge of retirement and all I want is to prepare the ground for fresh talent, those eager to devote their lives to Nepali women’s cricket.
Our female players have given their whole life to the country. They played for 11 years without a penny and only in this 12th year has our association started a salary system for them.
Earlier, we had a couple of matches a year and the timing always coincided with our exams. Of course, the girls could not leave cricket and, as a result, many of them couldn’t do well in their studies. Some gave up—a few went abroad. Those who stayed, they are the heroes because they gave their all without expecting anything in return.
We have distinct deficiencies in infrastructure. Cricket grounds at Kritipur and Mulpani have the only internationally-certified pitches. And Mulpani is still under construction.
At Kritipur, we haven’t played many games. We don’t even practice there. To train, we are sometimes sent to eastern Nepal, and sometimes to western parts. This is all because of lack of a designated ground for women cricketers to practice.
Apart from these problems, our association is doing pretty well these days—it organizes regular matches and avails us regular salary. All this will surely encourage newcomers.
Earlier, I used to hesitate to advise girls to take up professional cricket because of the association’s zero accountability. There was a time I thought Nepali women’s cricket might collapse. But we see a lot of scope now. I feel proud for the part I have played in the improvement of women’s cricket. I hope the association understands the need for more inter-school/college competitions and talent hunts at the ground/district level. Sports should be included in school curriculum.
In my life, as in cricket, I have learned that patience is important, as it makes the impossible possible. Rather than stopping at the first hurdle, you have to keep going, and you will eventually succeed.
Were you also into other sports, or was cricket always your first choice?
In Grade VI, I started playing volleyball and won many school-level tournaments. I also used to play cricket with senior males. At that time, I had no idea about Nepal’s women cricket team. Later, when I was given a choice between playing cricket or volleyball for Nepal, I chose cricket.
What is your best memory of playing for Nepal?
Undoubtedly when I took five wickets for just a single run in the last over against Singapore during an ACC Women’s T20 cricket match in Malaysia. It is still a world record.