Over the years Nepal have proven their dominance at age-group level, winning six of eight ACC tournaments since 2005. Currently ACC U-17 and women’s ACC Under-19 champions, Nepal are looking to get their hands on another trophy – the inaugural ACC U-16 Elite Cup which will be hosted by them in March 2010.

Nearly twenty years of developing regional and school cricket has now led to the creation of 377 cricket clubs along with 221 junior clubs across the country. With CAN’s hard work paying off, cricket has overtaken football as Nepal’s most popular sport. A nine-day tournament for the six development regions in Nepal is being held in January in the suburbs of Kathmandu.

Roy Dias: Inspiring teacher

Nepal’s coach Roy Dias says, “Since now the ACC has only two age groups, the U-16s and U-19s, all the players participating in this regional tournament have a chance of getting into the under-16 national side. The selectors will pay close attention to all games and hopefully we can pick a strong squad.

“Most of the U-15 players I last worked with in 2007 are overage and therefore the players in this tournament are all newcomers. It will be a lot of work to coach them but it is something that needs to be done for the game to grow.”

Nepal with their latest Trophy, the 2009 ACC U-17 Elite Cup

Since Mr. Dias took over as Nepal’s national coach in 2001, they have won the Youth Asia Cup in 2003, played in four U/19 World Cups being Plate Champions in 2006 and have won two ACC U-15, one ACC U-17 and two ACC U-19 tournaments. Nepal has never had trouble locating talent, just holding onto them. With players exchanging cricket for a career that can secure their future, Nepal have lost several national players who Mr. Dias himself has trained. “I can’t blame them for leaving the game. After all, they can’t make a living out of only playing cricket. Companies, airlines, hotels and banks should offer them jobs”, explains Mr. Dias.

Selectors will choose 30 players from the ongoing regional tournament before short-listing the squad of 14 for the ACC U-16 Elite Cup. Players from all the six regions will undergo digital x-rays before the tournament for age-verification purposes to satisfy the ACC tournament requirements.

CAN President Binaya Raj Pandey says, “We follow the same protocol for both men’s and women’s cricket as far as development is concerned. We encourage more people to play and when we do we can scout out more talent and this tournament will bring us lots of it.”

Nepal’s considerable success at age-group level has led their supporters to expect similar achievements at senior-level, which haven’t quite materialized, fourth-place being their best finish in the past ACC Trophys.

Nepal’s senior team are currently focussed on their World Cricket League Division 5 participation in February 2010. Hosting the tournament, it will be the first World Cricket League to be broadcast on live television, thanks to Nepal’s tremendous domestic fanbase.

Nepal U-16 regional tournament fixtures

Nepal Cricket Profile

Filed Jan 6th, 2010