Local Super League cricket

Bhutan has been one of the unheralded successes of the global cricket development program. On the field they’ve risen from ACC Challenge to ACC Elite (ie second division to first) at all levels at various times, and even when they’ve been knocked back they keep coming back. In order to fulfil their potential the Bhutan Cricket Council Board has embarked upon a serious plan for development, one that makes use of every asset they have.

“It’s sink or swim,” says national coach Damber Singh Gurung, “we have talented players, we have a desire to succeed, and we also have limitations which we are trying to overcome.” Chief among those limitations is the absence of a cricket ground of any real size, or proper practise facilities and a climate which means that whereas an Indian subcontinent cricketer has 270 days to play in, Bhutan’s cricketers are lucky to get 120. Monsoon rains, cold winds, stony ground, nevertheless they are producing cricketers and have had their triumphs.

Practises in Thimphu

ACC Development Officer for Bhutan Rumesh Ratnayake says, “these cricketers embody the true amateur spirit, they play at quite some cost to themselves for the pure love of the game and though some sponsors are coming in, the amounts are so small that a championship club would be hard pressed to use their winnings on a cricket bat. And yet when they win a domestic event its like the biggest thing in their lives.” There is increasing corporate and government support but the momentum must be maintained if cricket is to keep climbing.

Rumesh Ratnayake tossing down some drills in Bhutan last year

“What we want to do is give our cricketers the benefit of all that we know, and all that we have learnt over the past ten years of competition,” says Level III coach Damber. To that end the Bhutan Cricket Council Board (BCCB) has assigned national youth and senior team coaches for men and women. Damber himself is taking on the seniors and U-19 boys, national captain and Level II coach Tshering Dorji is taking on the U-19 girls, and national player/coach/umpires Ugyen Dorji and Sonam Tobgay will work with the U-16 boys. “The idea is to make sure coaches should spend at least eight months with any national team before participating in any international tournament,” says Damber. Fitness conditioning, mental preparation, coaching and matchplay. “Its what the top countries do as a minimum, its what we need to do if we are to cement our places in the ACC Elite and climb up the global ladder,” affirms Damber.

Broadening the picture, for school coaches, the BCCB will be conducting regular coaches workshops and will guide school coaches during their school team preparation. By next year, says Damber, the BCCB is planning to appoint Level II coaches to four districts (Thimphu, Paro, Sarpang and Punakha) to act as national district coach on a model that has been producing results and new players for Nepal in recent years.

Bhutan could well become an example of sustainable development.

Bhutan Cricket Profile

Filed March 15th, 2013