Everest Premier League: The plethora of possibilities

Published On: December 28, 2018 08:19 AM NPT By: Rajan Shah

KATHMANDU, Dec 28: Indian first-class cricket veteran Ravi Inder Singh scored most runs in the third edition of Everest Premier League (EPL) which concluded on Saturday with Lalitpur Patriots securing the trophy riding on Jaikishan Kolsawala’s half-century in the final. Another Indian batsman Gaurav Tomar scored most runs for Patriots in a title-winning campaign. 

Similarly, Pokhara Rhinos’ South African player Richard Levi registered highest strike rate and most sixes in the league. Foreign players created quite an impact in the cricket extravaganza in Kirtipur’s cricket ground. It is one of the many possibilities that EPL helped generate for Nepali cricket.

“EPL is a competition between its 2017 and 2018 editions. And the current season will be competition for our next edition. EPL franchises understand that they need to have better quality foreign players each year and more or less everyone is doing it,” said EPL Managing Director, Aamir Akhtar.

Pace bowler Avinash Bohora picking up wickets including as big as Roelof van der Merwe’s, Dipendra Singh Airee scoring runs against all kinds of local and foreign bowlers, Pawan Sarraf and Lalit Rajbanshi stepping up for their franchise when needed the most, etc are few examples that young Nepali cricketers are learning by being part of EPL.

Similarly, fans were pleasantly surprised by the latest of shtick of prize money upon catching by one-hand in the crowd. “We tried to get more value for the spectators. We also imported cheerleaders on voluntary basis from London. They had worked in IPL previously. The crowd needs to get entertained in the ground as well,” said Akhtar who gave a priority to fans as well.

Likewise, former players, local commentators and presenters shared the commentary box with the likes of Andrew Leonard and Farveez Maharoof aiding to their own growth and learning the nuances of professional commentary during the matches. “We worked a lot on production and broadcasting value. We had foreign commentators to meet our message of Nepal cricket and it is now open for the world. ‘The world meets Nepali cricket’ is our theme,” said Akhtar. 

Irish Andrew Leonard and former New Zealand woman cricketer Frances Mackay as commentators made the match experience on television soothing and, arguably the best it has been in Nepal yet. Sri Lankan test player Maharoof, who played for Kathmandu Kings XI in last season, joined as commentator in the second half of the tournament. 

The key part was EPL protecting the essence of domestic cricket and its development. Few franchise leagues from associates emerged in last year or so. T10 league in United Arab Emirates (UAE) is making headlines so did Canada’s Global T20 League which featured stars like Steve Smith and David Warner. But none were able to aptly satisfy domestic audience or more importantly promote local talent like EPL does.

EPL, like Indian Premiere League (IPL), has a minimum quota of international players per playing XI, which opens up eight (seven in case of IPL) slots for domestic talents apart from established national names. The matches are observed by 10,000-15,000 fans per day at the Tribhuvan University cricket ground. 

Local players including Sandeep Jora, Sunil Dhamala, Sarraf, Bohora impressed in this year’s edition. It is up to the national setup now to promote these young kids who look ready, at least temperamentally, for international cricket like last year’s Anil Kumar Sah or Rohit Kumar Paudel to emerge and serve as national players. 

Paudel’s high score of 31 from 10 deliveries in last season’s EPL paved his way to the national team where he played crucial role in achieving the ODI status. 

In comparison, many youngsters have done exceedingly well in this year’s event.
With the involvement of overseas names like Kevin O’Brien, Kyle Coetzer, van der Merwe, Ryan ten Doeschate in the EPL, one can expect the ball game to advance further in the future editions. 

West Indies team may or may not tour Nepal in immediate future but the growth of EPL could bring the known stars like Chris Gayle or Kieran Pollard to Nepal and it isn’t a far-fetched dream to realize.

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