KATHMANDU, June 16: Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni´s high-profile Nepal visit could prove to be a stepping stone for the development of cricket in this country, with the Indian skipper accepting the role of goodwill ambassador of Nepali cricket.
Besides giving valuable lessons to Nepali cricketers, the World Cup winning captain said he felt honored to be invited to promote cricket in a neighboring country.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Post Bahadur Bogati declared Dhoni a goodwill ambassador of Nepali cricket on Saturday during an interaction program in Kathmandu. Dhoni humbly accepted the proposal.
“As a cricketer, it would be great if I could promote cricket,” said 30-year-old Dhoni on Saturday, upon his arrival in Kathmandu along with his better half Sakshi for a one and a half days´ visit.
Dhoni said that sport is something that earns a lot of goodwill for a country. “Cricket is very popular in the sub-continent and that is why I am here. It will be good to have one more team from the sub-continent,” he added, referring to the Test nations of South Asia.
Dhoni backed the cause of cricket, saying that sport and education are two dimensions that are very important in life.
He also expressed delight at the keen interest shown by youngsters in Nepal in cricket and said that Nepal as a cricketing country would grow further.
Though Dhoni stressed that Nepal needs to gradually develop infrastructure to improve its cricket standard, he urged Nepalis to make the most of what they have. “It´s not about what you don´t have, rather it is about making the most of what you have,” he said later during an interaction program.
Dhoni said what counts more is public support. “I like playing in front of a big crowd. It doesn´t matter where I am playing but what matters is in front of whom I am playing. I am sure the people will come forward to support Nepali players,” he said.
According to Dhoni, giving continuity to the game is vital. “It needs time. Stick to the players and they will gradually improve,” he added.
“Being focused, having passion and remaining fit are a few things that will help you,” he said when asked about the key to his success.
Given the glum scenario of financial backing for Nepali cricket, Dhoni said that the role of sponsorship is very important for the development of the game and urged sponsors to come forward and support cricket.
“It is important that sponsors come forward. They have a major role to play because sponsorship is important not only for sport but for the economy as a whole.”
Asked about the possibility of Nepal becoming a neutral venue for international matches–given that the country has ideal weather conditions and a cricket ground in a scenic environment–Dhoni said it was for the ICC to determine whether or not the infrastructure here is up to the mark.by NEERAJ CHANDRA ROY/ANIL GHIMIRE from republica