It has been a whirlwind few months for Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane. The 17-year-old leg-spinner was a crucial member of his team at the recently concluded ICC 2019 World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe, helping his side earn their maiden ODI status.
Languishing in lowly Division Five of the ICC World Cricket League a decade ago, the landlocked country has made impressive strides, making everyone in the cricketing world take notice.
Now preparing for his maiden stint in the T20 competition, the Nepal spinner spoke at length on sidelines of Delhi Daredevil’s training session.
How is it sharing the dressing room with former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting?
I think he (Ponting) is a fantastic guy who loves cricket just like we do as well. There are lots of things like his passion for the game that I have learned from him. I have learnt a lot from his kindness. I think he is a fantastic player. It is always a special feeling when you are sharing the dressing room with such legends.
How would you describe Nepal’s journey over the last few years in international cricket?
For two and half years our board was suspended by the ICC. We were nowhere in cricket for the last two years. After just becoming an ODI nation recently, it has been catching on and there are lots of opportunities for the future. There have been many ups and downs in the last two years. Right now, if I am getting the opportunity to play in the IPL for Delhi Daredevils and ODIs for the country, it will be very good for me and it will help to grow the game back home. The future stars of Nepal will be very happy to see this.
What are your hopes for the future of Nepal cricket?
We always want to remain as an ODI nation and we do want to play Test cricket as well. There were lots of ups and downs but we are just looking forward to do well in the future.
How have cricket fans back home reacted to your team’s recent success?
Everybody is loving it. Our fans have been very kind, they are like out 12th man every time. When nothing is working, they are still with us. Coming here and then playing with the legends who you used to watch on TV and now share a dressing room with them, always gives positive thoughts to your mind and it always feels great.
Apart from cricket, you seem to love your music as well. Can you tell us about that?
Music has been my second hobby. I used to sing a little bit but not like a professional singer. Music is refreshing for me. Whenever I am nervous or going through a bad time, I listen to music to calm me down.
Has there been any difference in bowling to players from Associate teams and those in the IPL?
It’s been different. I have got some experience in the last two or three days. It’s been great to bowl to these players. You will get to learn a lot from these guys. Some of the balls which an associate player might not be able to play, these players have the kind of experience that they can smash it anywhere.
Do you think the ICC’s decision to hold a 10-team World Cup in 2019 is detrimental to the game?
Yeah that is true. Every player from every country dreams of playing the World Cup. This time it’s only 10 teams and I think the ICC should have increased that so that every player gets a chance to play at the top level at the World Cup.
Thoughts on Delhi Daredevils skipper Gautam Gambhir?
We all know he (Gambhir) is the kind of guy who gives a lot of chances to the youngsters. From the first day, he was very caring towards me and it gives you a lot of positivity. When the captain believes in you, your trust becomes stronger.
Have you noticed any difference in the way Nepal and Delhi Daredevils prepare ahead of a match?
Difference is not that much. We used to do the same (training) as these (IPL) players. Difference is experience because we have not played big matches like these players. We don’t have a good board to get proper exposure for players.
What are your plans for the future?
I am going well so far and I want to continue in the same way. I think some great opportunities will come for me.
James Vince and Mark Stoneman are in charge of their own destiny as Test cricketers, according to Graham Thorpe.
The England batting coach acknowledges several places in the current Test line-up cannot yet be guaranteed long term.
But he complimented the second-wicket pair on their century stand after Vince (76) and Stoneman (60) responded to the early loss of out-of-form Alastair Cook by putting on 123 together as England closed day three of the second Test against New Zealand with a lead of 231 on 202 for three.
Neither player could go on to a maiden hundred – but after Stuart Broad (six for 54) led the way as the Kiwis were bowled out for 278 at Hagley Park, the twin half-centuries enhanced England’s prospects of squaring the series with a first Test win of a tough winter.
It also ensured opener Stoneman and number three Vince should retain their positions for the start of the summer to come.
Thorpe said: “They’re in charge of their destiny every time they walk to the crease with an England shirt on.
“They’re in a position to keep pushing on. Ultimately it’s up to them to be able to take that next step for themselves and go beyond their career-best scores and into three-figures.
“I’m sure both of them would have loved to have got hundreds, and gone on for their own confidence.
“But they’ll still get a good pat off us in the dressing-room, because it’s easy to shrink sometimes at this level, so it’s important they both stood up.”
Vince, who was far from a certain selection for this match, has often flattered to deceive in his short Test career to date by following a series of flowing boundaries with an edge behind or to the slips.
“There are areas of the Test side where you’re not going to say everyone is guaranteed their places, we’re constantly trying to get more out of players who are in the XI,” added Thorpe.
“You have to look at your squad and think ‘Are there better players out there, or do we have to keep working hard and be patient with players?’.
“The more you learn, you get over those hurdles and start to feel very settled. We’re hoping a few of them are close to that.
“They are still developing within their Test careers, but I was pleased with the way they went out and got themselves into good positions, and didn’t back off.”
At the other end of England’s range of experience, 33-year-old record runscorer Cook has endured the worst series of his career after the latest of his four successive cheap dismissals to Trent Boult.
But Thorpe said: “A guy who’s scored that amount of runs, and has done it in a way he knows, it’s hard for us to question whether his technique is right or wrong.
“He’s had some aggressive nets to try to shake things up a little bit. You can clearly see the hunger is there.
“He’s disappointed through this series, but around the group he’s still chipper, and that’s very important that you try to remain upbeat.”
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling top-scored for the hosts with 85, only to see England take charge.
He said: “Vince and Stoneman had a really good partnership, and we couldn’t quite break through there.
“But I think tomorrow morning is a massive session in the game.
“If we can take four or five wickets we can put them under some pressure, (but) obviously, if they get through it, they’re in control of the game.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
South African fast bowler Dale Steyn revealed on Sunday that he is targeting a stint with English county Hampshire in June as his comeback to competitive cricket.
Steyn, 34, has seldom played in the past two years because of injuries.
But he told SuperSport television on Sunday that he was close to full fitness after missing the series against Australia following his latest setback, a heel injury suffered in the first Test against India in January.
“I could get through 12 or 15 overs but that’s not enough to be competitive in a Test match,” he said.
Steyn is just two short of Shaun Pollock’s South African Test record of 421 wickets. He is likely to have another chance to break the record when South Africa tour Sri Lanka in July and August.
“The Proteas don’t play for quite a while,” said Steyn.
“I’m going to take another month off. I’m not going to the IPL (Indian Premier League). I’m looking to go over to Hampshire in June to play a little bit of cricket, then Sri Lanka in July.”