Shakti Gauchan inspired a generation of Nepal's players
July 19, 2018 04:30 AM NPT
By: Rajan Shah
Shakti Gauchan celebrates after dismissing Babar Hayat of Hong Kong during the ICC T20 World Cup second qualifying cricket match in Chittagong, Bangladesh in this file photo dated March 16, 2014. On Wednesday Gauchan announced his retirement from international cricket. Photo Courtesy: Icc
KATHMANDU, July 19: Nepal's legendary all-rounder Shakti Prasad Gauchan announced his retirement from international cricket amid a farewell function in Kathmandu on Wednesday for the national cricket team before its Europe tour. The team is set to leave for the United Kingdom on Thursday, with the ODI series against the Netherlands on August 1 and 3 to be Gauchan's last participation as player in an overseas tour. The veteran spinner will continue playing domestic cricket.
The left-arm orthodox spinner has desired to play a farewell match in front of a home crowd in Nepal. “To be able to play in front of the home crowd and bid farewell to cricket will be one of the best moments for my cricketing life,” said the 35-year-old at the function. He added, “It has been a long journey, from eating lunch sitting on the floor to dining in five star hotels. And this is the right time to call it quits as we have really good youngsters coming up now.” The lanky left-arm spinner has eight T20 international wickets and 18 List-A wickets to his credit. He also played four first-class matches for Nepal during the ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004 and 2005.
Not considered as a gifted player, Gauchan toiled his way more traditionally and kept reinventing his game to become an epitome for young aspirants in the country. “I always believed that the day I see players working as hard as I do and can contribute for the team will be the right time for me to move on,” said Gauchan.
He was a top-order batting all-rounder when he first started his career. He was only the second ever Nepali batsman to score an international century when he slammed an unbeaten 106 off 103 balls against Italy during the ICC World Cup Qualifying Series in 2005. He then became the first Nepali player to register a hat-trick against Denmark during a Group A match in ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Dubai in 2012. His greatest performance remains the immaculate spell of 10 overs where he conceded only two runs and took three wickets including eight maidens against Malaysia in the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 in Kuala Lumpur in 2012. His most celebrated performance came in the ICC World T20 qualifying stage in 2014 when he picked up the man-of-the-match award for a three-wicket haul in a win against Hong Kong in Bangladesh. He garnered rare reviews around the world for his accurate bowling and his iconic omnipresent smile.
Former Kiwi Test bowler Iain O'Brien was so much in awe of him that he tweeted, “Can a county please pick up Nepal's Shakti Gauchan for two reasons: a) he's awesome b) I'd love to learn all about him and his cricket.” He titled Gauchan as 'everyone's favorite player'.
In a 16-year career, Gauchan has lived through generations of Nepali cricket. From partnering with Sanjam Regmi when he first started his career to teaming with Sandeep Lamichhane in current times, the 35-year-old's career can be taken as a perfect specimen of all the ups and downs of Nepali cricket through the last couple of decades. However, he formed the most potent partnership with Basant Regmi, which, arguably, was the most fearsome spin duo in the associate countries for quite some time.
Both scripted many unprecedented wins for Nepal amid low key batting performances. Nepal's most important journey in cricket was starting from the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in 2010 to gaining ODI status in 2018. Shakti Gauchan was part of all the squads that made those leaps.
A long and successful career has ensured Nepal will never be short of left-arm orthodox spinners. “Not one but there are at least 10 players who can fill in for my role if they work hard and perform,” said Gauchan at the function. He has inspired players from Lalit Rajbanshi in the current squad to Susan Bhari in reserves. Spinners like Bhuvan Karki, Binod Lama, Shahab Alam and Samsaad Sheikh are waiting in the wings whereas little known Sagar Dhakal and Kshitiz Singh are also keen students of the same art. “I took my nation to ODI status. I want to see the current batch take us to Test status. I wish them all the best,” concluded Gauchan.