By Ram Khatry, Canowindra
20 December 2018
Sandeep Lamichhane, Nepal’s top export to the world of cricket, has been accused of being arrogant and rude to his fellow Nepalis at the recently-held Nepal Festival in Melbourne. Mr Lamichhane, on his part, has expressed shock at the allegations claiming they are “totally wrong” and ill-intentioned.
Speaking to southasia.com.au on Wednesday night, the 18-year-old sportsman hit back claiming the festival organisers resorted to “fake news” by circulating a poster with his photo whereas neither he nor his manager had any inkling about the massive festival. This, he said, put him under lot of pressure as he had to juggle between Melbourne Stars team meeting and the festival venue with less than an hour to complete all engagements.
Many community members in Victoria do seem to have grievances against Sandeep Lamichhane, a rapidly-rising international cricketing hero.
A Facebook post by Norgen Norboo, a socially active member of Melbourne’s Nepali diaspora, has attracted over two hundred reactions overnight and has been shared by many of his followers. Ever since, the debate has attracted hundreds of comments from both Australia and overseas.
At the core of Mr Norboo’s post is a claim that community members in Melbourne were left offended by Sandeep Lamichhane’s rudeness when he participated at the Nepal Festival, a biennial celebration of Nepali food and culture. Mr Norboo claimed that a mere 15-minute delay in the Nepal Festival parade irritated him prompting a question from the cricketer, “What sort of management is this?”
When asked to stay away from the tram line during Melbourne Festival morning walk, the cricketer reportedly quipped, “I am a VIP, does it matter where I walk?”
The status goes on to say that the leg-spinner hesitated to take photos with community members. “Now, do we really have to pay money to take pictures with this young chap?”, Norgen Norboo asks in his Facebook status.
An official from Nepalese Association of Victoria supported what Mr Norboo said, “His behaviour was very disappointing during Nepal Festival cultural parade in Melbourne.”
In his interview with southasia.com.au, Mr Lamichhane assured that what Mr Norboo said was not right, “Everything is wrong there, everything! I swear up to God, I swear up to my parents!”
“It hurts a lot!” he said.
“I just requested them to start quickly on time because I already had a team meeting which was my priority,” he said referring to the claim that he criticised the management for not starting the parade on time, “On top of that I was suffering from jet lag.”
Alluding to “payment for photos”, Mr Lamichhane swore he never hesitated to pose with anyone except when he was on telephone. Only when someone requested photos during an important team-related call that he said “Ek chhin”, which is “a moment please” in the Nepalese language, the Nepali cricketer explained.
“If I took money for posing for photos then by now I would not even have to play cricket,” he remarked.
“They put my picture. It was a fake news, at the beginning, that I was going to be included in the Nepal Festival. It was a fake news,” he said. When asked to re-confirm his claim, Mr Lamichhane said, “It was not the truth in the beginning, until I landed in Melbourne.”
He argued that it was only “natural” for “payment” to take place whenever and wherever sponsors are involved. He accepted that his manager did discuss payment with the organisers of Nepal Festival. “That’s the truth. You have to accept it. Because, I am here to play, I am getting paid here,” he added.
However, his eventual participation in the Melbourne Festival was not paid for, “No one had informed me or my manager, still we went there!”
“Above everything else, there is God. He knows. Nothing will remain a secret even if I wanted to hide. I do not need to show myself as good. Whatever is truth will come out in front of everyone one day,” he said.
“All the singers that come here, I don’t think they come for free. But I am not saying that if they are paid then I should also be paid. I could have done that for sure until the last moment. Still, without payment, I went there,” the teenage sporting sensation reminded.
Mr Lamichhane became the first cricketer from Nepal to win an IPL contract when he was picked by Delhi Daredevils in January this year.
He is currently in Melbourne to play for Melbourne Stars. According to Mr Norboo’s status, an official from the host club wrote to Nepalese Association of Victoria (NAV) to get the cricketer involved in the Nepal Festival for “community engagement”. So popular is Mr Lamichhane with the local diaspora that the Nepalese Association of Victoria and NRNA Victoria Australia have apparently bought 300 tickets to watch his games in Australia.
“I first saw Sandeep bowl for Nepal in the Asian U19 Championships in Malaysia and was immediately impressed by both his skill as a wrist spinner and also his energy. I watched Matt bowl for Lancashire in the Vitality Blast this season where he helped them reach the semi finals with some dominant performances,” Melbourne Stars official Trent Woodhill is quoted as saying on the club’s website.
“Lamichhane had a successful IPL debut for Delhi and bowled well in the CPL. We have high expectations that he will light up the BBL and become a star of the tournament,” Woodhill further adds in the post.