On the first full day back at Lord’s after a flight or three from Kathmandu, the time has come to reflect on a wonderfully hectic, eye-opening and enjoyable 12 days in Nepal.
After Monday’s 40-run T20 win in the final match of the tour, MCC will leave with three wins, two defeats and one draw which feels about right.
But of course there was so much more to the trip: we met some incredible people, saw some amazing sights and experienced a culture that’s both fascinating and enviable in so many ways.
Having come from a developed country that is seldom susceptible to natural disasters, it feels a little glib and patronising to observe that Nepal is recovering from this year’s disasters ‘with a smile on its face’.
However, it is tough not to be impressed by the positivity with which the locals have approached their recovery.
And it feels like cricket is playing a big part in that.
From the coaching clinic the players ran at the start of the week, right the way through to the hundreds of cheering supporters at Monday’s T20 match, it is clear how much of a force for good the sport is, and MCC’s presence can only have enhanced that.
One of the National Cricket Academy coaches told me that a few weeks after the earthquake, a group of his players decided to go on a cricket tour to the west of Nepal as ‘a way to release all of the stresses and traumas from the devastation’.
“There’s some serious cricketing talent in Nepal”
It’s this upbeat stoicism, along with the universal warmth with which we were received across both Kathmandu and Pokhara, which has made this such a memorable trip for everyone.
There is also some serious cricketing talent in Nepal, as the MCC players witnessed both on matchdays and during training sessions with incredibly enthusiastic and gifted local youngsters.
This, of course, bodes well for the future of cricket in Nepal.
The Tribhuvan University Ground, where all but one of MCC’s matches were played, is currently the scene of some reconstruction work – with a new media centre and changing room facility being erected following earthquake damage.
Once these are finished, the ground will look even more of a picture, and will no doubt play host to some exciting and well-supported international matches in the future.
If the boisterous legion of fans who turned out for Monday’s match are anything to go by, there is a sizeable appetite for top level cricket.
The message that has been reiterated in interviews, addresses and conversations throughout the week is that, despite its recent troubles, Nepal is definitely ‘open for business’ and I hope that MCC’s visit has enhanced that image.
The squad have now gone their separate ways and returned to homes as far flung as Hong Kong, Australia and Alderley Edge – with summer Lord’s reunions no doubt already being planned.
The Club goes on with its day-to-day business – the inaugural pink ball Test match in Adelaide now a major priority.
But as far as this tour goes, it’s safe to say that eyes have been opened, horizons expanded and strong friendships made both amongst the squad and, more importantly, between Marylebone Cricket Club and Nepal.
Original article by Chris Smith: http://www.lords.org/news/our-blogs/mcc-overseas-tours/mcc-in-nepal/reflections-from-a-cricket-tour-to-nepal/