At the tender age of 17, Sandeep Lamichhane recently became the first player from Nepal to be snapped up in the Indian Premier League auction and MCC has been following the career of this young leg-spin sensation with interest, as his rise to prominence began through a link with the Club.
Lamichhane has been signed by Delhi Daredevils for the 2018 edition of the IPL. Set to become one of the biggest-ever stars of Nepalese cricket, Lamichhane was first identified by Scott McKechnie, MCC Member and Head Coach of Kowloon Cricket Club in Hong Kong, on MCC’s tour to Nepal in 2015.
Lamichhane’s journey from India to Nepal, Hong Kong to Australia and many other places in between now sees him on the cusp of global cricketing stardom, should he deliver the performances of which he is capable in the IPL, which begins in early April.
“It was a really important time for us to tour Nepal because they had recently had an earthquake of great magnitude”, said McKechnie. “For a lot of the local community, cricket was an outlet and a distraction from the devastation and we were lucky enough to come across Sandeep in some of the games we played there. You couldn’t miss him - he was so high energy, and just so happy to be there.
He was a big personality and he backed that up with huge amounts of skill
“He was a big personality and he backed that up with huge amounts of skill. I knew straight away we’d come across something special. It was important to me from an MCC standpoint that he got the opportunity that he deserved going forward.
“Sandeep is a wily bowler, a really good leg-spinner. He bowls a good pace, but likes to mix up his pace and be unpredictable. He’s a smart-thinking cricketer, and mature beyond his years. I’d liken him to Rashid Khan in the modern game. They’ve both come from an Associate Nation background and are achieving incredible things.”
After starring in the Under-19 World Cup in early 2016 for Nepal, taking 14 wickets at an average of only 17.07, Lamichhane was taken by McKechnie to Hong Kong to play for Kowloon Cantoons in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz, and it was there he increased his exposure to top level players. Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who also played for Kowloon, described him as a “wonderful talent and a little champion” ahead of this year’s IPL auction. Clarke went on to invite Lamichhane for a stint at his club back in Australia, Western Suburbs, and also to train at his cricket academy in Sydney.
In July of 2016, Lamichhane featured in an historic day for Nepalese cricket, playing in their first-ever match at Lord’s, helping his side to a 41-run victory against MCC.
Having been discovered at such a young age, Lamichhane has been able to feature for both Nepal’s senior team and their Under-19 setup. He has recently helped the Associate Nation to top the rankings in ICC World Cricket League Division Two, which secures a path to the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe. His fine performances in the series saw him claim the Player of the Tournament, taking seventeen wickets in six matches. He also played his part with the bat, featuring in two crucial last-wicket stands.
McKechnie is only too aware of the importance for players to progress from Associate Nations. “Seeing players like Sandeep succeed on a global stage is so important for the further development of nations like Nepal. It is crucial. We have seen that journey unfold through Afghanistan and Ireland, where a bit of exposure has helped these countries to perform and produce talented cricketers.
“The sky is the limit for Sandeep. He’s still young, so he could achieve anything he wants to. He’s got the right energy, the right attitude and the right skill set to perform at a very high level for a long period of time. He is going to be a global name, and the fact that an Associate Nation like Nepal has produced someone of his quality shows the talent and ability that is out there.”