In the mid 2000′s, there was a promising young left arm seam bowler from Bhairahawa called Basant Regmi, who could swing the ball both ways. The boy was quickly coming up the ranks and it seemed only the matter of time before he lived the lifelong dream of playing for Nepal one day. But, unfortunately, the boy had an unfortunate motorbike accident and a narrow escape. The consequences of the accident was such painful that the boy had to forfeit his seam bowling and with it may be his dreams too. It was ‘tough’ to swallow, call it an anti-climax, a debacle, a catastrophe or any adjectives of your preference, it won’t describe such torrid period the boy was going through.
The boy was a fighter, he refused to give up. He wasn’t diverted by the injury. He didn’t change his dreams as Radamel Falcao’s, who dreams of playing for Real Madrid a day and Manchester United the other. His passion was unfazed and his determination stood strong. As singer Pitbull says in the recent football world cup, “When the going gets tough, get tough get going” the boy tried the same. He had to adapt, he had to change something. The changes were his run ups, bowling action and style.
His experience during his stint with Tirupati Club in his hometown helped him adapt and bowl slow left arm orthodox. And to the surprise of many, “He became doubly dangerous with his new style of bowling” as quoted by Cricketlok. His passion won him the battle against his shortcomings. Today, that very boy is the holder of 128 One Day wickets, 62 T20 wickets, a player to have played three World T20 matches and leading wicket taker in World Cricket League tournaments (82). Quite like a movie plot, isn’t it? He is not merely a Basant Regmi anymore; he is ‘Mr. Dependable’, ‘Crisis Man’ and the best wicket taking option Nepal has ever had.
“It was a difficult time. I felt as if the sky was falling. I had no clue about the way forward but the dreams. They became by driving force. In gully cricket (I) often used to bowl slow left arm, and it turned out to be a game changer for me. I decided to take over spin bowling and start from the scratch. (I ) tried to imitate Vettori (Daniel), watched several highlights to understand how a spinner gets a batsman out, luckily, (I) did well in the U19 World Cup 2006 and that gave me a lot of confidence. And I haven’t looked back since. I have to thank my brothers and Tirupati Club in Bhairahawa “, Basant Regmi recalls the period of his injury and taking over spin bowling.
Basant Regmi, ‘the man with the golden arm’ as we often call has been arguably Nepal’s best performing player over the last few years. He can check the flow of runs, invite the batsman down the wicket subsequently sending him to the hut or fox the batsman and rip through the batting order. There’s nothing he can not do with a ball in his left hand. Regardless of the tournament, the format, the opponent or the conditions, Basanta has been successful and reliable, only in the cricket field jokes Paras Khadka. He is a big match player whose performance intensifies with the strength of the opponent.
“Bowlers like him are captain’s marvel. He plays to perform not to survive. He backs himself even when the things are not alright. He then makes them alright. Plus he is useful with the bat down the order too!” says Nepal’s captain Paras Khadka.
The secret of Basant’s success has been is his confidence and control. He is ready to bowl whenever the captain requires him to. Give him the ball and see the magic! A well known partnership breaker, his biggest strength in words of Pubudu Dassanayake, the head coach of Nepal is his adaptability. When the condition favors him, he seems like taking wicket every next ball and when its difficult, he is wise enough to adapt promptly.
‘Honestly, I don’t think much when I bowl. You get nothing without planning. I simply plan to get the basics right and and that is my job .Its the batsmen who get out and fetch me wickets.” says Basant, the prankster in the dressing room.
Such has been his consistency, Basant Regmi remains himself even when the team is seen struggling. During the debacle in ICC World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand, he emerged out as a silver lining with 9 wickets 118 runs even when the whole team had struggled and was left with bits and pieces. Highlighted by his five for against Afganistan, he was excellent too in the Emerging nations cup, a tournament which didn’t go quite the way Nepal liked. His 523 runs in One Day cricket suggests he is handy with the willow and can give some nasty blows to the cricket ball. One can not simply forget his blitz during 2011 ACC T20 against Hong Kong in Kirtipur to snatch a nail biting and morale boosting victory. Plus him being the only left handed batsman who is guaranteed in the playing XI makes his role as a batsman technically even more important. During his stint of professional cricket in Canada, his batting credentials were exhibited and that suggested he’s no mug with the bat.
People say ‘bowlers hunt in pairs’ and it stands true for Basant Regmi and his fellow Bhairahawa man Shakti Gauchan. Together with Shakti, Basant has developed a terrific understanding and a fantastic bowling duo. The former is more of a defensive bowler who strangles the batsman offering nothing loose at all and the latter takes the role of taking wickets; luring them to big shots and obliging them to do something different and take chances. Gauchan has all good things to talk about his younger ‘brother’.
With a signature smile Shakti Gauchan says, “We (Basant and Shakti) are like two parts of same coin. We enjoy each other’s company both on and off the field. He’s a gifted player and his wicket taking ability is amazing like Muralitharan’s (Muttiah). He makes the job easier and brings the sense of relaxation even when the scenarios look adverse.”
Basant Regmi, a former fast bowler has a good memory. During the talk with the writer of these lines, Basant recalled everything including his U17 days, uprooting Suresh Raina’s stump, winning U19 plate championship and the World T20. Basanta Regmi is also a dressing room leader.
“He helps the younger guys out. He’s funny, a party animal and the best dancer among us” says Sompal Kami, the relatively newer member in the squad.
Basant Regmi seems to be a good fortune teller too. Long way back when interviewed by ‘Yubamanch’, the national monthly, he had marked out Paras Khadka as the future captain and Mr Khadka today has become arguably the best captain in Nepalese sports history. As the bowling plan revolves around him, Basant himself is involved in making some strategies and technical aspects of bowling. He captained his NPL franchise, the Gurkhas and saw some success too.
Critics of Basant point out the need to improve while bowling at the flat decks. He’s accused of trying too much when the day turns out harsh on him. While batting, he is seen slower between the wickets and seems always to be in a rush. His fitness and athleticism is often questioned. If he manages to get away of these shortcomings he’ll be a perfect package.
Gauchan and Dassanayake further agree Basant is not a finished article yet. “He is amazingly talented. He is still young and can only learn to get better and better from here. He has the potential to be the best bowler in Associate and Affiliate cricket.” said Gauchan and Dassanayake on same voice.
Anil Kharel, the member of triumphant U16 team in ACC Premeir League called Basant Regmi as his idol. The one who idolised Vettori once is now an idol himself. This is a huge huge responsibility and Basant Regmi would surely enjoy this moment and he deserves it. Basant’s story proves there’s always a way out of everything. Hard work and determination can change the life forever. According to himself, all you have to do is your best and there’s God to do the rest. As Basant himself agrees doing good is a habit, he has to keep the momentum going make most of his ability. As some fans in emotion confess he has saved our a** many a times, Basanta has to repeat those time and again until he reaches the dusk of his career. He is the reference to every new guys who likes the art of spin bowling. Undoubtfully, he’s already a legend and now all eyes will be on how he carries his legacy further.