The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently reinstated the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) on a conditional basis. The move has been welcomed by Nepali cricket players and fans with the hope that Nepal’s cricket team will move forward finally. The Diplomat’s Arun Budhathoki spoke to the ICC’s general manager, Will Glenwright, regarding Nepali cricket and the ICC’s recent reinstatement.
The Diplomat: After three years of suspension, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has been reinstated by the ICC on a conditional basis. Are those conditions limited to financial and administrative transparency and efficiency? Or might they go beyond the office that will last for six months or more?
Will Glenwright: All members are required to meet the ICC membership criteria on an ongoing basis. What CAN has achieved to date – and what led to the conditional lifting of their suspension – is the completion of the reinstatement conditions, which were established upon their suspension. In order to demonstrate compliance with the membership criteria, CAN needs to continue to apply its constitution and have in place an appropriate administrative structure. We will develop a transition plan in consultation with CAN to assist them in this process.
What’s your expectation of CAN this time? Can it really take Nepal cricket forward?
Yes, we have faith in CAN’s ability to successfully deliver its strategic vision for the game in Nepal and we will assist them as best we can in achieving that.
Prior to and during the suspension, Nepali cricket players and fans were vocal about CAN’s inefficiency, politics, and their financial obscurity. Does the ICC have a proper framework to minimize that this time?
We have improved our monitoring processes pertaining to each member’s compliance with ICC Membership Criteria, which are enshrined in the ICC Constitution. In fact, we are currently in the middle of a review of all members. The purpose of these monitoring processes is to identify any areas where members are at risk of not meeting the criteria and addressing that particular issue before it becomes a matter that may put them in breach.
If CAN fails to meet the ICC’s conditions within the next six months or year, will there be another suspension?
There is a clear process in place for all members that do not meet the ICC Membership Criteria. That process begins with a remedial plan designed to address the area of non-compliance in consultation with the ICC regional office. Only if that matter can’t be resolved within 12 months will the Board consider suspension.
What should the Nepal cricket board do to lift Nepal Cricket to the elite level?
First and foremost, they need to establish a strategic plan and then, under that strategic plan, they need to build the development and high-performance plans that outline specifically how they will achieve their strategic vision.
Sustainable performances at the international level are built upon a solid athlete pathway from juniors through to national team players—and that requires planning and partnerships with all the stakeholders in Nepal.
Given the passion that exists for the game in Nepal, I think a lot of the elements of a successful national cricket structure are in place already. How successful the game is in Nepal will depend on how well all those elements – and all the stakeholders – are brought together under a common vision for the game and how well they work together to deliver it.
With that said though, let’s not forget that Nepal is already a [One-Day International, or ODI] country: that in itself is an enormous achievement and a testament to the work of the players in particular in what must have been a very difficult time for them.
Nepal has achieved ODI status last year. How can the cricket board now create momentum to regain that status after four years?
Nepal are playing in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2; this event comprises of seven ODI teams with each team being two steps away from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. Nepal will play a total of 36 ODIs over the next two and half years in nine series. Their first series will be in Kathmandu between December 8-15 and they will host the United States and Oman. They will look to finish in the top three of the league so that they can compete in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2022 to keep their hopes alive on the road to India 2023.
Does the ICC have any specific plan for Nepal cricket now that its board has been reinstated?
What’s most important is that the cricket fraternity in Nepal – through CAN – develop a strategic vision for the game that everyone has ownership of. Our only plan for Nepal is that the game achieves its enormous potential – and we are incredibly excited about that potential.
Where we can be of best assistance is in assisting CAN to achieve its strategic vision for the game and to provide and technical and structural assistance as it is required.
Nepali players and fans often complain that there aren’t enough competitive matches, salaries, or infrastructure for them. Can we see a change now?
Internationally, as part of the ICC’s commitment to provide more organized and competitive cricket in ICC events, the 50-over structure mentioned above and there are frequent opportunities in the T20 pathways and women’s as well. The structure for qualification for the Men’s T20 World Cup and Women’s T20WC/50 over WC and U19 Cricket World Cup means all Associate Members have a clear pathway with competitive cricket.
Nepal still lacks proper cricket stadiums. Should CAN focus on working on this issue too?
Facilities are a challenge for all our members – as it is for all sporting organizations. I expect there will be a number of priorities for CAN in the first few years of their new administration and where the development of facilities fits within the order of priorities is something that CAN will need to consider. Needless to say, any facility development plan requires buy-in from governments, sponsors and landowners and that is something that historically takes some time to develop.
Where do you see Nepal cricket in the coming years?
We are incredibly excited by the potential for cricket in Nepal. As I mentioned earlier, such is the passion for the game in Nepal – which I have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand – with good governance and administration in place, the sky is the limit for the game in Nepal, and a strong Nepal is good for global cricket.
This interview has been edited and condensed.