9 September 2016: Nepalese cricket star Sandeep Lamichhane says his sponsorship by Michael Clarke to train at the former Australia captain’s academy and play for the Western Suburbs is “the biggest gift” the Australian legend has given not only to him but also to his country, Nepal.
Speaking to southasia.com.au, the celebrated teenage leg-spinner said he would leave no stone unturned to make both Mr Clarke and his fans proud.
He would be playing alongside Mr Clarke for the premier grade cricket club from September 24. It is noteworthy that the Australian has not played the game since the Hong Kong T20 Blitz in May where he met the Nepalese cricketer for the first time and instantly recognised his “outstanding potential”.
Now, he would be returning to competitive cricket with Sandeep Lamichhane first time in months.
The fact that Mr Clarke invited Sandeep Lamichhane to play in the 2015-16 summer season for his beloved boyhood club shows the former captain’s brotherly affection for the 16-year-old from the Himalayan nation. On his part, Mr Lamichhane said his Australian stint would help him build “a future” and “status” in the world of cricket.
“Sandeep is a fantastic young man who enjoys his cricket and is extremely passionate about the game,” Mr Clarke was quoted as saying in a September 6 press statement made public by the Western Suburbs.
“It is a really exciting opportunity to have such a talented Nepalese cricketer travel this distance to come and test his skills and improve his game at my academy. I am looking forward to working with him and all the boys and girls that will attend the 5-day live in camp starting September 26th,” he further added in the statement.
Hemanta Kafle is a Sydney-based journalist with two decades of experience in Nepalese media, fifteen years of it as a sports journalist, knows the tiny South Asian nation’s sporting history all too well. “I cannot remember any other instance in which a world renown sporting figure like Michael Clarke took personal interest in the career development of a young Nepalese sportsman,” Mr Kafle told southasia.com.au. Some young Nepalese cricketers did have opportunity to play abroad every now and then but certainly not to the extent of exposure Mr Lamichhane would be getting during his months of stay in Sydney, he pointed out.
An excited Lamichhane told southasia.com.au on September 8 that he would be leaving Nepal on September 18 but did not yet know where he would be staying while in Sydney. However, it is understood the young man will probably be staying with some Nepalese family in Sydney’s western suburbs where there is a particular concentration of the ever-increasing Nepalese diaspora. Mr Kalfe said any number of Nepalese families would vie to host the friend teenager.
Mr Lamichhane would be attending a 7-day training at the Michael Clarke Cricket Academy the expenses for which are being taken up by Mr Clarke and his sponsor Hublot, the Swiss watch company.