My hands were shaking, I was standing numb, applauding the sheer genius walking off the ground for the last time after mistiming a shot. Not just me, the whole arena stood up to embrace a legend, the first cricketing hero, the icon of Nepali cricket.
The standing ovations, the huge round of applause, the garland of respect will always live in my memories for rest of my life. It was one moment which wasn’t to be lost. I didn’t. It was just that moment which may have inspired 100s of Binod Das out of the 1000s of crowds and spectators present there witnessing the grand exit of a hero, a cricketing hero.
He was sad. He should be. Like every fighter leaving his battlefield who made a life living out of it. There also was a smile. A smile of satisfaction that saw a illustrious career coming to an end. It was emotional. It was soothing. It was a perfect moment sports can be proud of and a sports fan always craves for.
Binod Das in his delivery stride
There was a moment or two, when Binod Das was batting, I groaned to myself, ‘Why Binod why?’. He smacked Basant Regmi over long on region for a picture perfect six, which he also hold the pose for the cameramans. No holds were barred as he thrashed Charlie Burke’s warm up half volley over mid off for a cracking cover drive. About time when his son started hooting for him. His 3-years-old son.
He looked as good as he ever have been, not from inside maybe, not on fitness maybe, but being composed at crease, smacking fours and six, picking up the loose deliveries, respecting good deliveries and registering a strike rate of more than 140 against the likes of Sompal Kami, Basant Regmi and Matthew Elliot (who picked up 3 wickets later in the match) should have satisfied him from the core. But not me. I want more of ‘Binod Das’, please.
That was not it. He dismissed Gyanendra Malla too. Arguably, the best batsman in Nepal today was adjudged plumb LBW by the retiring sailor. He was throwing himself on the field. He was marshalling his troops. The troops from sands of time. The Paras Khadka playing under him. The days were rolled back as Mahesh Chhetri, the next good thing in Nepali cricket back then was again in the reckonings, first identified during Binod Das’s tenure as a captain.
Binod Das at TU Cricket Ground
There were moments which almost summed up Binod Das’ careers in one match today. Starting with captaining Paras Khadka, marshalling Mahesh Chhetri behing the wickets and in a batting partnership with him every time Chhetri looked out of sources. Sanjam Regmi picking up wickets for him, which he had done all his career under Das’ captaincy. Sharing a dressing room with Shakti Gauchan and Paras Khadka, one with whom he first learned the art of captaincy and the one to whom he passed the baton.
Not only that, it was quite astonishing and ironic, as Paras Khadka went in to bat just after Binod Das’ fall of wicket, the connection. Simultaneously, taking care of his family throughout the day. Not leaving for anyone but doing all sorts of work from bringing bananas to momos for the kids himself, checking them, making sure they are having a good time, enjoying the euphoria of emotions and excitements.
A cricketer, a leader, a father, a lover, a ‘Guru’, a legend on his own rights.
Not saying, I have seen much of Binod Das’s career or I know him that personally, but one of my (and his) very close friend can guarantee how much I respected and role modeled the gentleman of a cricketer and the perfect ambassador of the Nepali Cricket.
Binod Das in a National Cricket Academy session
His statements, visions, quotes are forever part of our favourite chit chats. It won’t be far-fetched to call him the ‘the Statesman of Nepali Cricket’. The humble being who can comfort you in an instance. No wonder, that common friend is finding no words to describe Binod Das’s contribution to Nepali cricket when I asked him to share a few thoughts.
I had this privilege to work with him under his directon in Journey to World Cup Tournament hosted by Zohra Sports Management. That was my first direct interaction with him, and to tell you the truth, he use to inspire me with his sheer presence. When you grow up, with all the cricketing knowledge you have, playing or watching, he is the kind of guy you dream to be. Intellectual, intelligent, kind and humble. Always taking care of you with various ways possible. He always raised up ‘your’ standard by just being around you.
Binod Das, by now, is the sole representative who raised standard of Nepali Cricket from obscurity to recognition. Started playing from U19 level, a dreamer from Kalaiya saw a dream which no one even dared to even imagine. In 2003, I fell in love with cricket, for a guy from middle class family taking cricket as a career was like no option whatsoever, never hit my mind, even for an instance, nope. And it was 2003, way better than it was ever before.
But there was one guy in 1998, who not only played it at that level but proved that hard work can make a career out of it. “He is the first role model of Nepali Cricket, great servant of Nepali cricket” stated Binod Pandey, the senior most sports observer and writer from Nepal. “Uttam Karmacharya led the first international team of Nepal but it was all about Binod Das after that.” he added, speaks volume of Binod Das’s cricket and his incomparable contribution to Nepali Cricket.
At the age of 31, when usually a player hits his prime has to retire is the saddest part about sports how it can be so cruel sometimes robbing a potentially better conclusion of a player who deserved more.
Binod Das with Sompal Kami: the baton is passed.
There were times when he was compared to Glenn McGrath in line & lengths by Tim Brooks, the author of Second XI and long term observer of Associates Cricket. He also stated, Binod could have been a successful Test player given the opportunity. Vividly evident with his average of 11 runs per wicket in first class games with total of 17 wickets to his name in 3 matches. More than 5 wickets per match.
In all means, he deserved a better career. But in a country which is poor from politics to sports, mentality to finances, it may need more selfless sacrifices from visionaries like Binod Das to take Nepal to next level.
That’s certainly not end of Binod Das, he will be there helping Nepali cricket by coaching or managing or directing, cricketers, tournaments and academies for Nepal. The persona he carries, the attitude, the level proffessionalism Binod Das harness will only bring positives to Nepali cricket.
The head coach of National Cricket Academy is certain to provide a new crop of talented players in very near future. Like he did with Sompal Kami & Karan KC during the ICC World Cricket League Division II in Namibia when he was appointed assistant coach of National team. He may well go on to make more of an impression off the field than he has done on it. (First Published in Cricketlok)