Women’s cricket in Nepal is drawing top-ranking athletes from other sports in the country to the extent that four 14-member squads from Baitadi, Nepalganj, Bhairahawa and Kathmandu are taking part in the first-ever national championship.

Nepalgunj, with teenage track-and field stars and captained by the national badminton captain Nary Thapa, are strong favourites. Nepalganj’s women’s cricket was awarded the ICC Global Development Award last year.

“I am very happy to lead a regional team and we are confident that we can win,” says Nary, a member of the Nepali badminton team at the Tenth South Asian Games in Sri Lanka. “We have been playing this game for three years now - more than any other team.”

“At first, when I told my college friends that I play cricket, they were surprised and didn’t believe me,” 17-year old Shradha Aryal of Bhairahawa, says. “I had to bat to the boys’ bowling to prove myself. And then they started encouraging me and wishing me good luck.”

The top performers from the tournament will form the basis of the national team for the ACC Women’s Tournament in Malaysia in July.

Filed June 27 2007