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Falling in love with Nepal

MCC's Ben Shepperson coaching Nepali cricketers in Kathmandu
MCC's Ben Shepperson coaching Nepali cricketers in Kathmandu

At the time of posting MCC will be four days in to the tour of Nepal and mid-way through the second match of the trip against a Pokhara XI.

I write from the Waterfront Hotel in Pokhara itself, at which we arrived today after a very short but stunning flight with the wonderfully named Buddha Air.

We soared over various ranges of Himalayan mountains, which saw most passengers scrambling to take photos through the window.

An infectious enthusiasm and love for the game of cricket

The scenery on the ground is no less beautiful than it is from the sky, with the 17km Lake Phewa providing an eye-catching backdrop to the second largest city in Nepal.

The backpacker-friendly, mountainous atmosphere of Pokhara seems a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, where we started this tour last Friday 13 November.

After a lengthy flight, tired bodies and a universal lack of awareness of people’s names led to calls for an early night which were granted – but not before a traditional six-course Nepalese meal at local Hotel Dwarika.

The necessary removal of shoes and crossing of legs led to equal hygiene and orthopaedic concerns but, once these were assuaged, the group enjoyed some fantastic local food and, what we have come to learn, is a typically warm Nepalese welcome.

Day two meant a first daylight venture in to Kathmandu and the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground for the T20 fixture against a combined Nepal XI made up of Under-19 internationals and players on the fringes of the national side.

Before the match however, MCC players gave an hour long coaching clinic to around 70 local cricketers on the ground, set against an impressive backdrop of rolling hills and trees that remained beautifully translucent through the mist.

The young Nepalis displayed an infectious enthusiasm and love for the game of cricket, which evidently rubbed off on the MCC tourists as they went through their coaching drills with great energy and passion.

There was also a considerable amount of talent on show amongst the Nepal youngsters, not least from 13-year-old Sachin Sharma, whose cricket-loving parents had named him after their favourite batsman.

Sachin Sharma said: “I really enjoyed being with the MCC players because they taught me a lot of skills and also how to play the game in the right way. I learnt a lot about the basics of fielding, and also how to stay positive if things aren’t going your way.”

After the coaching clinic finished, the afternoon saw MCC take on the combined Nepal XI, with the visitors scraping home with just one ball to spare. A good smattering of supporters provided a boisterous atmosphere for the match, and locals assure us that that smattering will become a sizeable throng by the time Paras Khadka and the full Nepal national side are in town for the match against MCC this Saturday.

Before that two-day encounter gets underway, the MCC squad have a number of other activities and matches lined up, including a coaching clinic with youngsters organised by the Ghurka Welfare Trust, two more 50-over matches against Nepal B teams, and a flight over Mount Everest.

Four days in and it’s become clear to the entire MCC squad why visitors fall in love with this country so easily – good food, gorgeous climate and great people. And that’s not to mention the cricket.


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